kei’s notes

Research and learning

Learning in life is so much more beyond what we planned at the first place or what we were taught by others. Our own discoveries along the way make the greatest part. (Ahrens; ch. 2)

Studying is independent research by itself (Ahrens; ch. 5). Research is learning.

School provides the platform for knowledge debate and idea exchange, which is crucial to progressing knowledge. Education focusing on rote learning is missing both the occasion and the point. It turns students into performers of information, not masters/experts of knowledge. It takes away the opportunity of leaning—making meaningful connections for self. ==> [Mastery/expertise vs performance]

  • Education should focus on the exchange of thoughts, discussion around arguments, and corroboration based on facts. The students and the professor are not in the classroom for one another but the above-mentioned dialogue and its product: the pursuit of truth. The author or speaker does not count but the idea. (Ahrens; ch. 5)

In education, teachers prepare learning materials in modules and chapters to help students conveniently absorb them through rote learning. This contradicts the very goal of learning, and deprive students of the stimulation and training of making sense of learning material by themselves. Thus, it prepares students to perform information, not mastering knowledge discovery or application (beyond exams, in life).

  • Learning requires effort, because we have to think to understand and we need to actively retrieve old knowledge to convince our brains to connect it with new ideas as cues. To understand how groundbreaking this idea is, it helps to remember how much effort teachers still put into the attempt to make learning easier for their students by prearranging information, sorting it into modules, categories and themes. By doing that, they achieve the opposite of what they intend to do. They make it harder for the student to learn because they set everything up for reviewing, taking away the opportunity to build meaningful connections and to make sense of something by translating it into one’s own language. It is like fast food: It is neither nutritious nor very enjoyable, it is just convenient. (Ahrens; ch. 10)

To keep learning learning (how to learn), we would have to keep varying learning (the way of learning). It helps us retain information and knowledge in the long run.

  • Varying learning models appears counter-productive in the learning process but helps long-term retention and contextual transfer & application of acquired knowledge. Constant mode of learning (e.g. narration, one-way presentation) does the contrary. (Ahrens; ch. 10)


  • What could be some good ways to stimulate students’ initial interest in class?

Last update: 2021-02-19


Ahrens, Sönke. [How To Take Smart Notes]: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. Sönke Ahrens, 2017.

Research and learning