As human beings, we never stop learning. As Albert Einstein famously enunciated: “Once you stop learning, you start dying”.
That’s all well and good, but how can we conjure up ways of keeping engaged with learning in order to improve performance at work, help get that missing professional qualification, excel in your summer school, or even just pass that exam that’s on the horizon at school, college, or university?
The tips below are designed to assist the way you learn, regardless of what stage in life you’re at.
- Get (and remain) organised
Whether in full time education, higher education, or you’re simply taking a class as an extracurricular activity, you should ensure you’re adequately prepared for what lies ahead. If you prefer to make notes electronically, ensure you have the necessary equipment sorted in advance; otherwise, make sure to stock up on pens, notepaper, binders, and post-it notes. And don’t forget to keep organised as the course progresses
- Prepare thoroughly
It’s never a bad idea to study, at least in part, the curriculum prior to starting your course so that you know what to expect. Do the necessary preparatory work, which may include buying a textbook, sourcing your other work materials, and ensuring you’ve made a note of the dates of your classes, exams, and submission deadlines if applicable.
- Be punctual
Try to show up to classes a few minutes ahead of schedule so that you’re ready and raring to go when teaching begins. This helps to ensure you’re not playing catch up from the get-go, and you won’t miss any key bits of information for your notes. On which note…
- Take useful notes
Not everyone learns in the same way. Some people are able to take copious amounts of notes while still listening actively; others need to sit there and take it all in and pick up the key points in notes afterwards. Whatever your preference, always try to ensure that you take the notes you feel you’ll need to do well in your assessments. To keep up the good habit, you should take time to go over your notes from your previous class prior to your next one. This helps to ensure that you retain the pertinent information.
- If in doubt, ask
Most teachers and facilitators will say – and in most cases, they genuinely mean it – that “there are no silly questions”. Take this on board, and make the most of the expertise of the person teaching the class and ask questions of their interpretation of things. If anything, their opinion of you will be more positive if you ask questions as they’ll see it as a sign of an active and enquiring mind. More importantly, if you need clarification on a point, it’s always better to ask than to assume.
- Enjoy and engage
Above all, try to enjoy your experience, to get along with your classmates, and engage with the learning material. This will make the process go a lot faster and may even make it all seem easier!