Learn: 3 Strategies to remember more easily

“You tell me, I forget. You teach me, I remember. You involve me, I learn” – 

Benjamin Franklin

But why is memorization so important in learning?

This is the question I asked myself when I discovered these few words of Benjamin Franklin

Remembering, remembering is proof that we have learned , the latest neuroscience research tells us (1). Because learning is above all retaining a large amount of information.

Indeed, how could one read or write without managing to remember the sounds, the names, the shapes of the letters in order to “know how to write”? Impossible you tell me.

This is why memorizing in a lasting way is essential for our children so that they learn and continue to do so with enthusiasm in a world that is going faster and faster and which will require them to know more in order to be able to count.

I therefore propose 3 strategies that will constitute fertile ground for simple, effective and above all happy learning .

Learn and remember more easily in 3 ways

How I improve my attention

  • When we are attentive, we are selective : we do not “see” everything at the same level. In this example, we only look at the ball passes and suddenly we ignore the gorilla.
  • And to be able to be (really) attentive: we need a goal . Understand why we should pay attention. Here, it is because we have a clear counting directive at the start that we manage to focus our attention.

These two observations led to two concepts: multitasking (because attention is selective) and meaning project (because attention needs a goal).

Multitasking or running two or more tasks simultaneously

Is it possible to process two (or more) tasks at the same time? You will tend to nod. We walk well while talking, right?
In fact, studies published in 2005 by neurologists Sylvain Baillet , Claire Sergent and Stanislas Dehaene identified the phenomenon of ” attentional c -alignment ” when we do 2 things simultaneously.

When the brain blinks, it allows us, unconsciously, to interrupt for 0.25 seconds (a quarter of a second) our attention on an activity to move on to another, and vice versa.
However add the experts, doing 2 tasks at the same time is only really possible if they do not call on the same brain functions .For example, walking 

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(motor skills) and talking 

(language). But if you try to text 

(language) and chat 

(language), it gets stuck. Our brain must choose.

The meaning project

With mental management – ​​a method that describes how to become aware of one’s cognitive or mental habits to learn better – the pedagogue Antoine de la Garanderie popularized the meaning project .

The project of meaning is the reason that drives us to learn, and the way in which we channel our attention on the information to be retained. For students, it is crucial; it is first of all, am I learning to say it again? to do it again? To find out for tomorrow, next week, always? To reuse it once, several times, all the time?

But it is also, for example, for me, is knowing something to know the rule or is it to understand how to use this rule? Or again: to be attentive, do I need to know the result to be obtained or is the step-by-step method better suited to me?

As we have understood, this learning process that is mental management is above all a cognitive introspection which makes it possible to concretely analyze one’s own mental processes in order to learn better, and in one’s own way.

With the meaning project, attention is structured and a long-term information retention framework is offered.

How to improve my attention in practice

It happens in two stages.

So we start by banishing multitasking in favor of single-tasking. Only one task at a time to avoid that when moving from one activity to another we lose information and therefore make mistakes later.

Besides, I remember that in mathematics, I had a tendency to make mistakes in my homework on the table, even while rereading myself. In fact, I was doing a global proofreading (multitasking) when I should have reviewed my copy in 3 single tasks to optimize my attention:

  1. First I check that I have used the right method(s)
  2. Then I check that I speak the right mathematical language with the right vocabulary
  3. Finally, I make sure that the calculations are correct

The second tip is to identify your project of meaning (the learning objective), this is what will allow maximum attention and serene and lasting learning.

In addition, as attention requires energy, we will spare moments for the brain to decompress. The latter will be more than grateful to you when he has to put himself in a state of “attention” again to learn.

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How I make connections between knowledge

We have 100 billion neurons in our brain and each of them can be connected to 10,000 others, creating an incredible and endless neural communication network through which they transmit information to each other.

And some of these cerebral highways (which chemistry and electricity make possible) form the working memory , pathways that tend to redirect information to the exits when it deems it useless or to lead it back to the fast pathways (c i.e. to long-term memory ) when it deems it essential.

Some studies (2) have shown it: the working memory of the human being can retain only 7 pieces of information on average at the same time.

So how do you improve information retention with this working memory limitation?

The answer can be summed up in one word: connections .

How I make connections in practice

We can thus learn to manage the capacities of the working memory with the following tips

First of all thanks to this neuroscientific practice of making connections between knowledge, cutting or “chunks” in English. We will thus make the brain believe that it is processing a single piece of information when we have provided it with several in a single packet.For example, this sequence of 8 digits requires a little time and strategy to memorize but if it is cut like 122/782/59, it becomes easier and easier to digest for the brain.

We can also look for common points and make comparisons to retain better.

For example: if we master the table of 2, we say that the table of 4 is that of table 2 multiplied by 2.

If knows the table of 2x … then 4x … it’s like 2x 2x …

If knows 2x 6 =12 then 4x 6 is like 2x( 2x 6) or 24

If we know 2x 5=10 then 4x 5 is actually 2x( 2x 5) or 20

According to the latest neuroscience studies, we cannot increase the maximum size of our working memory , but rest assured, we can do it with our long-term memory .

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How I compare to better remember

“If I understood the lesson, what’s the point of doing exercises?” I’m not going to do them all anyway! »

Does this sentence remind you of something?

And there you probably answered him that knowing the rule was necessary but not sufficient. Indeed, the exercises are there to train and acquire automatisms which will allow him to support more complex reflections.

In fact, understanding the examples and the exercises is like making muffins: you need the recipe and the ingredients. What’s great (and delicious) is that you can replace the chocolate chips with dried fruit or with nuts or raspberries. In other words, when you master your recipe rule, you can have fun dressing your muffins with exercise nuggets. And doing math while cooking then becomes a real delight.

This is exactly what our brain does, it works by associations , it compares, it opposes, it assembles to understand and remember.

Antoine de la Garanderie conceptualized this phenomenon through the mental gestures of understanding and reflection . Thus, I seek the meaning of the information evoked in my mental universe by confronting it with other existing information ( understanding ) but also with the rules which are attached to it ( reflection ).

How I compare to better learn in practice

I train and redo in different ways. Because, as the latest studies by the Australian organization NSW on cognitive research have proven (3), long-term memorization means being able to process information in different ways.

To sum up

We have seen together 3 strategies to help him remember remember more easily what he learns:

  • better attention
  • More efficient connections between knowledge
  • Comparisons that enrich brain activity and produce automatisms

Neuroscience constantly brings new discoveries, dispels myths or reinforces cognitive intuitions.

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this article, share your opinions and experiences in the comments below!

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