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Page 12A: The Learning Process - Getting it (Understanding) - Continued
Continued from previous page
Breaking it down
Sometimes I’ve heard people say, “It’s too complex for me; I’m not that clever!” Well perhaps you are more clever than you think. Step back from the big picture (despite what we said earlier) and break it down into small chunks. ‘What does this paragraph in this book mean?’ you might ask. Back then comes a familiar retort, “But I don’t understand half the words!”
There it is! The basic unit of learning – the word. The difficulty with many subjects is that those involved in them have used ‘academic’ or ‘technical’ words, words that the average person doesn’t come across and so these words appear alien to you.
Your first step MUST be to pin down their meaning so you are completely clear in your mind what they are saying. When you can replace their words with yours or use an equivalent phrase, you know you have overcome that difficulty.
From past experience in a variety of situations I know that pupils, students, listeners generally are loath to admit their ignorance publicly and ask for an explanation and yet, in a classroom situation, there is probably a room full of equally ignorant people.
If this is a new area for you then it is natural that you will not understand the language and your tutor should explain all such words. Until you have a grasp of such ‘technical’ or ‘academic’ words you will be flying blind. To answerexam questionsit is vital that you understand such words.
Here is a relatively random bunch of words you might come across. Check you know what they mean and if you don’t a visit to a dictionary would be worthwhile.
Part 2: The Adventure of Learning
Remember, this page has all been about awareness, about you being aware of the objective of your learning that goes beyond merely collecting information and moves on to understanding it, realising its significance.
To do that you will need to become a questioner. Why is this? When does that happen? What does that mean? How does that work? Who is involved?
The more you ask such questions the more you will develop your understanding of your subject. Do not remain passive. Don’t accept what you are told in an unquestioning manner. Check resources. Read the experts. Use dictionaries, a thesaurus or an encyclopaedia, surf the Internet.
There is a world of knowledge out there just waiting for you, and as you manipulate that knowledge you will find understanding flowing in its wake.
Whatever your subject, seek for understanding.
Leonardo da Vinci is supposed to have said, “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
Someone else said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”