What is a “study method?”
Let’s face it, the study method is something we’ve all heard about but few of us have had the opportunity to really experience and apply.
From the very beginning of our school careers we are told that “we should have one,” yet few times are we given any guidance on how to get it. We should have one but no one tells us how to get it, and so it seems to be something that, if we were good students, we should already possess among our skills as a matter of course.
We should have it, and we don’t. We should use it, and we don’t (because we don’t have it). And we should therefore find one.
what is this study method?
First of all, we can say that the study method is a method, that is, it is a process.
The Treccani encyclopedia, in its long entry, gives among the first sentences this definition: “the procedure followed in pursuing a purpose, in carrying out any activity, according to a predetermined order and plan with a view to the end that is intended to be achieved”.
In other words, the method of study is a process that leads to the achievement of the objective, which is to study. Even if, in reality, our goal is not study as such, but study as learning. In short, our goal is to learn.
The method of study, therefore, is (or should be) a process that we can apply to achieve the goal of studying properly in order to learn.
A somewhat complex definition to say this: a method of study is a system that must allow me to learn easily. Or, at least, as easily as possible.
But what is the study method that, in most cases, we are told to apply?
Do you need to learn something? Repeat it. Do you need to remember something? Repeat it, commit it to memory so you’ll remember it. Need to learn a specific skill? Repeat it until you can.
It all sounds very easy and straightforward. Yet, I think it’s happened to all of us – even maybe more than once – this very simple system occasionally, or even often, doesn’t work.
I repeat and repeat and do it again…but in the end, I don’t get it to succeed. And in the end, I don’t remember it.
And, indeed, it just seems that the harder what I have to learn, the less this ‘repeat-method’ works.
While it is certainly true that repetition helps learning, we must be careful how and how much we repeat.
Repeating too many times, in fact, goes to write a type of memory that is not entirely under our control and is not entirely reliable. Doing it over and over again is a good thing, but it is not the method.
We say that repetition is the way through which the method of study should express itself, but it is not the method itself.
In other words, repetition for its own sake is not a method of study, or at any rate it is not a method of study that is entirely sustainable in the long run.
Of course, there may be people who are fine with repeating a lot (and if something works for you, keep it up), but most of us don’t like this system too much and don’t find it effective.
I asked myself, years ago, what was the basis of learning, and the answer was: the brain.
The brain, in fact, is our “learning machine.” Everything we know is in our brain.
And it is very interesting to see how, for the brain, repeating and redoing is not entirely what we mean.
For the brain, in fact, even visualizing something is equivalent to repeating; even reasoning about something is equivalent to repeating; even mentally manipulating a piece of information is equivalent to repeating. Therefore, repeating is not only a matter of redoing something.
I talked about this and the brain, how it works, and the characteristics of learning and memory in the ebook you can download for free, “How to Study, How to Perform, How to Teach: Fundamentals.”
Click this button to go to the ebook page: