Learning is a lifelong activity that continues long after school. As business development professional Fahim Imam-Sadeque explains, learning new things keeps your brain active and has many other positive benefits.
If you want to learn something new, how do you go about it? Whether you’re an adult looking to expand your horizon or a student hoping to learn a new concept, you can take steps to make the process easier.
Follow these three steps to help you gain and retain new knowledge.
Break Down Barriers
Everyone has barriers to learning. Maybe it’s a noisy environment, a cost associated with taking a class, or a subject matter that gives you trouble.
A great way to learn something new is to identify the barriers you have in learning and then break them down. If the noisy environment is your particular barrier, for instance, set aside time in a quiet place where you can learn. If it’s a specific subject matter, approach it from a different angle.
One of the most significant barriers people face when learning something new is approaching the subject matter with anxiety or doubt. If you convince yourself that you can’t do it before you even try, you’re more likely to fail than if you approach it with an open mind.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself as a visual learner, a hands-on learner, or a classroom learner. Instead, approach learning new things with an open mind and integrate different learning modes into your approach. This could be reading books and watching documentaries, for example, or going to a museum to supplement what you read in a book.
Studies have proven that when people can apply subjects to their own life, they gain and retain knowledge more effectively. Even traditional topics such as maths and science can be used in your life in some way.
For example, if you want to learn how to use a spreadsheet program’s calculations, try using it to create a personal budget.
When we find meaning behind learning, we’re more motivated to learn new things. Learning isn’t about memorising facts; that approach typically doesn’t lead to long-term retention and real-world application.
When you can understand the relevance a topic has to your life, you’ll often be able to learn the information better.
When people try to learn new things, they often turn to books and videos. That can serve as a solid base for learning, but the best way to gain and retain new knowledge is to apply what you are reading about and viewing.
For instance, if you’re trying to learn woodworking, you can gain a baseline of knowledge by reading books or watching tutorials. But then you should immediately just dive into it and try making something yourself.
Fahim Imam-Sadeque says that a lot of learning happens when we try something and fail. When we try to apply the knowledge we learn, we get to experience that knowledge first-hand. This experience allows you to use the knowledge you’re learning with your own hands.
When you can see things working before your eyes, you are much more likely to gain the overall knowledge that you’re looking to obtain. And then, as you tinker with this new skill you’ve learned, you’re much more likely to see it from different angles and, as a result, retain that knowledge more effectively.
Hands-on learning helps us develop patterns that reinforce what we’ve learned.