On Learning

How does one learn? How did I learn? I started a journey in time, a journey to my past, starting from my school days, thinking about my successful and unsuccessful learning experiences. One factor that had certainly influenced my learning a subject was the passion with which my teacher taught. Be it Mathematics, Chemistry or Tamil, I spent more time on subjects that were taught by passionate teachers and that had a lasting impression and influence on my career and profession. The other factor that kept me engaged, and on my toes while learning, was the informal challenging quiz or question during the class. This sort of questioning made me apply what I just learnt to a new situation needing a solution. I found that this sort of exercise helped in my learning to stick. In a similar way, in Mathematics, I found that applied or word problems helped me understand the concepts much more than straight application of rules. I also found that I had been successful in learning subjects where I can apply reasoning or logic to arrive at a solution rather than the ones that are based on rules. With respect to the situation that lead me to unsuccessful learning, I can think of two situations. I was trying to learn another language without any immersion. Basically, the learning style was to memorize the words and answer questions. I did not go very far on this one. The other instance I was unsuccessful in learning happened when I tried to learn swimming as an adult. During one of the classes, I drowned and my fear kept me under water for a long time (at least, it felt that way), until the teacher pulled me out. Since that day, the fear of water had kept me away from learning how to swim. As an extension, I guess fear is one of the factors that block me from my learning.
How was your experience? What helped you to learn successfully? What lead to your unsuccessful learning? Please share your thoughts.

Originally published at thoughts-and-journeys.blogspot.com on October 25, 2015.