Learning better - that's how it works

No, our daughter is not a sponge. We sit before the homework, the child should count. I explain, the child nods and calculates. I explain again, the child nods and calculates. I explain again, it nods and calculates. I scream, the child screams. I would like to know from whom the idiotic comparison comes from, children would absorb knowledge like a sponge. Our daughter obviously not.

Our daughter was born and apparently learned by herself. The first smile, the first "mom" - we did not have to teach her all that. For example, the first free steps are the result of a maturing process, the timing of which is dictated from within. Even if parents try it, it can not be rehearsed by diligent practice from the outside. The same applies to the language. We did not have to explain sentence structure or grammar. She listened and learned to speak. Without any instructions.

Running, talking, counting: everything starts easily

Running, speaking, simple counting. The brain of children is prepared to learn this. If necessary, the charms it needs, it also looks for itself. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Because there is no innate learning ability for binomial formulas or Latin grammar. But this knowledge is far too young. And a sponge is not the child's brain either. Learning is an active process and not passive sucking. That's why we can not just kind of pour out the knowledge about our children.

For 15 years, I am entering a school building for the first time. The enrollment of our eldest daughter is due. And while I walk along the corridor with the colorful children's pictures, suddenly everything is back: The teachers with their yellowed, on the edges tattered lesson preparation sheets that stood in front of us - should we cram their stuff or still the children twenty years ago? This merciless boredom - eternity is shorter than a double lesson German. And of course the fear of our French teacher, called "Le Diable" (the devil). I often wished for school to be different in the past. How that could be, I learn at this parents evening.

Because in the class, in which my daughter will come, there is no longer a lesson for all. It is no longer taught head-on from the lectern, everyone may learn differently. According to your own pace and your own abilities. This avoids both: frustration and boredom. Every child has a sense of achievement that is so important to learning. Brain research and aha experiences stimulate the reward or happiness center of our brain and thus ignite a true learning turbo.

Those who want to acquire knowledge need prior knowledge

Of course you can learn differently, through pressure and fear. But together with the learning material then also these negative feelings are stored - and if we remember the learned, also retrieved again and again. This inhibits us to use the knowledge gladly and creatively. And some spoil it for all time: they are also as adults rather avoid learning. On the other hand, if you confirm that learning is sometimes tedious, but still worthwhile, you will want to remain curious and want to learn more.

As you learn, the neural network in our minds is being changed and expanded, but it's not being completely reinvented. So learning always has a basis. Those who want to acquire knowledge need prior knowledge. Critics see exactly here also a deficit of our entire education system: It could not hang much at all, because not at previous knowledge attached and abstracted too fast.

That's probably why I least remember my physics lessons (and that's probably why my daughter can not do anything with my math explanations). A physics lesson ran like this: experiment, formula. The connection was not so clear, because we had developed no real understanding of the sizes contained therein.

On the other hand, anyone who is able to work out the learning material independently will inevitably proceed step by step. And so firmly anchor what you have learned on every level. And that later comes to the question "Mom, why does not a ship go under?" certainly more than "Yes, so buoyancy, er ... - ask Papa." So my daughter will have better learning. Whether she also has more desire to study?

See, hear, talk - the learning style is innate

On my first exam at the university, I have prepared myself so: I sat with my books in the meadow, the sun was shining. I just did not fail because the minimum score had to be lowered. Otherwise, almost no one would have passed. I have learned independent learning only at the university, simply by try and error. I met up with others in annoying study groups to find that I better learn on my own.And quite old-fashioned with colored markers, colorful index cards, diagrams, sketches - with everything that makes the subject matter structured and somehow visible.

It was different with my roommate. When she learned, she heard a constant babble from her room. On her flokati soon traces of running became apparent, because she turned hour by hour on her laps and said the material aloud. Now and then we met in the kitchen - she drank tea, I had coffee - and wondered at each other.

Individual learning style is called something like that. According to some experts, each one of us is innate. Often four types are distinguished (but there are also other divisions): the communicative, which best learns through conversations with others, the motor or haptic motor, the action and movement, ie "learning by doing" needs, the visual that would be me, and the Auditive, my roommate. That I prefer to see than hear is certainly my general preference - after all, I also do not like audiobooks.

The way I learn is also what I learn. I learn vocabulary best when someone listens to me and I use them in conversations with others. I better internalize the lifecycle of the small liver fluke over pictures.

Instead of putting oneself in rigid type drawers, which prescribe the way to learn, one has better a repertoire of different learning strategies at hand. They also help to practice and repeat the learning material in a variety of ways. As a result, it anchors itself in different places in my head and can be more easily kept and played back.

And my individual learning goal determines the best learning pathways. What do I want to be able to do afterwards? If I want to learn a language in order to be able to ask for directions or to order food on vacation, role-playing games or a cassette with dialogues are enough for me. If I want to talk to the people there properly or even read the newspaper, I need vocabulary lists and grammar exercises.

Why children learn more impartially

So learning is actually only the second step in learning. Important is the goal. And that has to be realistic, otherwise I'm frustrated too fast. It is best to put off a few intermediate stages by portioning the material. And reaching the intermediate goals, and not just the final goal, is worth a reward.

My final exam was four years ago, but of course I have not stopped learning since then. For example, I started a new job and learned to navigate it, I learned to operate two new phones, I learned to do my own tax return, and I learned to be more patient with the kids. Well, especially the latter of course not perfect, let's call it "everyday". You do not learn much from routine, but every new request gives us the chance to learn. This works at any age.

Maybe we are not that fast anymore. Because we have already learned a lot until automation. That makes us effective. However, whenever situations change, we have to be painstakingly and deliberately relearned. Children, on the other hand, are often free to learn afresh. And therefore we have understood the new mobile faster than we did.

As an adult, I have the advantage of a broader knowledge base in learning. For this reason, I can structure new information quickly, link it up with known information and thus keep it better. The more and the more diverse one has learned, the easier it will be for future learning. So we just increase our ability to learn by learning from the beginning. Actually quite simple, right? Why I still have not started learning Spanish? I always wanted that. Yes, if only I had the time!

If I'm honest, I think I'm just too lazy. Because one thing I have certainly learned: Even with the best learning techniques, learning always remains exhausting. Unfortunately I'm not a sponge.

Study Music Alpha Waves: Relaxing Studying Music, Brain Power, Focus Concentration Music, ☯161 (July 2020).

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