How do we learn? – Inhale

I think that everyone who is not endowed with a photographic memory knows about how hard it can be to learn something new. We might think: I only need to sit down and read and memorize it and then I learn it soon enough. Or when we are at school or university and the teacher asks us what we have learned today. It appears simple. We sit, listen, maybe try it out a bit and everything makes sense, when we hear it. But did we learn something? The answer is no. During the next days, I want to share with you how we learn, based on an approach I learned from my professor Klaus W. Döring.

In the paragraph above, I already mentioned some elements that lead to learning. There are basically two parts to it. He called them inhalation and exhalation. Each of those have sub-parts. In this entry, I will start with inhalation. For that have a look at the image below:



You can see that there are 4 steps that follow each other which put together constitute the process of inhalation. The most important thing to realize is that even if you go through all those four steps, you won’t have learned something. What you gained is understanding. You can also see that there are a lot of chances for disruptions in the learning process.

The first step is motivation. If we are not motivated to learn something, if we don’t have an interest in the topic, it might be very difficult to learn something, as we have to fight ourselves and drain a lot of energy in the process. The second step is intake. Are you physically and mentally able to take in new information? If you are tired or didn’t eat/drink enough or if you are consumed by other thoughts, it might be difficult to take in new things. The third step is processing. How do you work with the new information? Do you take notes? Do you structure those notes? It is the same with all data. If they are not properly processed, they are useless. The fourth step is anchoring and is the closest what might resemble learning. Here, you draw connections to previously acquired knowledge and you embed this new information in the context of what you learn.

I want to say it again. You didn’t learn anything so far, going through those four steps. You merely understood. And also, be aware that along the way, there are plenty of chances for disruptions. This can show itself as a learning disorder. But maybe, you can adjust your own learning process to achieve a better outcome.

Typical things you do during the process of inhalation are reading, listening, attending a lecture, and also most of the power point presentation you engage with. Watching YouTube videos can be fun, entertaining, and even educational, but as long as I don’t do anything with those information, I didn’t learn anything.

Tomorrow, I will continue with the exhalation part, followed by a fantastic system, how to learn at school or university.


Love and hugs, Stephan


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