I went back to college as an adult several years after my initial freshman experience after graduating from high school. I remember feeling nervous as an 18 year-old; but as a thirty-something, I was terrified! What if I am the oldest person in class? What if I can’t grasp the knowledge? What if I am stupid? What if…well, you get the picture.
One of the first classes I took was Philosophy. While I was not the oldest person in class – WOW! – I had certainly entered alien territory. My experience was far from the diapers, playgroups, and soccer teams that had consumed my days over the past decade. The vocabulary alone was like a foreign language! Things like extensionality, infinite regress, and modal logic seemed beyond my realm of understanding. I was certain I would prove myself to be stupid.
My ten year old daughter overheard me expressing my lack of confidence to a friend, and interrupted with encouragement. “Mom, it’s really not that hard. See it. Say it. Write it. Remember it.”
“Huh?” was my astute response.
“All those vocab words…look at them in your book, that’s the ‘see it’ part. Then say each one out loud and write it down. You’ll remember them! Really! It works for me all the time!” She sounded so sure, so enthusiastic. Maybe she had something.
“See it, say it, write it, remember it?” I asked. “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” So, based on the strong recommendation of a ten year old, I applied this method in my Philosophy class and aced my vocabulary test! Over the next few years, I applied it in many of my classes. It worked like a charm every time. Best of all, I discovered I was not stupid!
Even after graduation, I’ve taken the opportunity to apply this learning method to many different situations. One, in particular, comes to mind. I was asked to take over a technical management training function in addition to my duties of directing the leadership development for the organization. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do what the people being trained would need to do.
I decided to use my daughter’s simple method, which had proved to be effective over the years. So, I found five of the best employees in that technical area and I watched them, creating a mental picture of what the job entailed, step by step (see it). I shared my mental picture out loud with each of them separately, describing each activity as best I could, asking for corrections when I was wrong (say it). I then created a detailed list of the steps they took to accomplish their job from beginning to end (write it). Finally, I sat down and did what they did, with my five subject matter experts watching and evaluating me (remember it). With some practice, I was able to quickly build my skills and even meet their quality and production metrics. Only then did I feel prepared to manage the training of new employees in this area.
Everyone has a preferred learning style that helps you learn more – faster. Knowing, and understanding your preferred style will improve your approach to learning so the time spent is efficient and effective. While there are many learning models, from simple to complex, there are three main learning preferences:
- Visual Learners prefer to learn through visual means. They prefer seeing words, diagrams, or charts. They like to see an example or observe someone perform the task.
- Auditory Learners prefer to learn through listening. They learn best through verbal lectures, discussion, talking things through and listening to what others have to say.
- Tactile or Kinesthetic Learners prefer to learn through moving, doing, and touching. They learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring that which is to be learned.
How do you prefer to learn? I’ve realized that the method my daughter taught me years ago is so effective because it touches on all three learning preferences:
- See it – visual
- Say it – auditory
- Write it – tactile or kinesthetic
Combined, the three helped me to remember it!
What skill or topic area would you like to learn about? What result are you not getting that you really want to nail? My advice is to learn by taking the tip offered to me by my ten year old:
See it. Say it. Write it. Remember it!