Learning about Learning From Tad Waddington
I’m about to begin a teaching semester, and many of us will be either teaching, taking classes, pursuing degrees or involved in self-learning ventures this summer. In that spirit, you should benefit from Tad Waddington’s short and to-the-point May 22 Smarts blog on Psychology Today, Smarts: Four things worth learning about learning. Waddington, author of the book Lasting Contribution: How to Think, Plan, and Act to Accomplish Meaningful Work, demonstrates how with additional focused effort and thinking about what we are trying to learn, we’ll gain greater understanding and recall. This is especially true today when we are bombarded by so much material online, in print and on TV and radio. If you add that to the material you are teaching or learning, it can create serious information overload. He suggests such strategies as reading and re-reading a passage for understanding, but then writing out or saying aloud its meaning. Also: doing something backward as well as forward (it seems like this one can be fairly tricky), retesting to see if you really understand what you’re trying to learn or accomplish (see how he references Peter Drucker on this one) and trying to understand the theory or principle behind a fact, not just the fact itself. He intriguingly calls the latter behavior “a self-imposed learning disability.” That concept gives us something to think about as we transition to the summer months: how do we hold ourselves back by the way we think and learn?