We live in a world where possibilities are endless and technology keeps improving; meaning we must always stay on our toes and constantly learn. In order to be successful and a High Performing human being, we must continue to learn, even after we get that piece of paper at graduation. Nate Kornell, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Williams College who studies learning strategies, shares 3 ways we can become an efficient learner:
According to Kornell, effective learning feels difficult. It’s this ability to embrace continuous discomfort that separates ultra-high-achievers from everyone else. For most people, once they’re pretty good at something – be it public speaking, writing or Excel – they become complacent and comfortable, unwilling to continue to challenge themselves. “You reach a plateau where you don’t experiment and you don’t practice new techniques because you’re satisfied,” he says. “The people who achieve the most in life are the ones that aren’t satisfied with 8 out of 10; the people who don’t stop until they are a 10 out of 10.” That requires risk taking, uncertainty, repetition, the pursuit of criticism and, yes, discomfort.
Kornell, who has researched this topic extensively, believes that the act of forgetting information and then re-learning it, ideally multiple times, is what cements memories in the brain. The process of forgetting, and then repeatedly filling in those memory gaps, makes them stick. “You can’t add to your knowledge unless you give yourself a chance to forget,” which is why cramming produces such fleeting results.
The more, the better. If you want to remember the information in a passage you are reading, root the text to as many additional contexts as possible. Pause frequently and think about how what you’re reading now relates to what you read earlier. But don’t stop there. If you really want the material to stick, make personal connections as well: relate the text to events that have happened in your own life, or the life of a friend or acquaintance. The more individual threads you can tie from the material in the book to other, independent realms of pre-existing knowledge, the more likely it is to stick around.