The importance of knowing how to learn


The Appalachian Online

James Branch

Walk into the library at any time and you will likely see hundreds of students working on homework, papers and quizzes, with a quiet buzz of hushed whispers filling the air.

However you look at it, the library is a hub for students to come to find isles and shelves filled to the brim with information to help them through college.

Sadly, a lot of these resources go unused and unappreciated because of our ability to use computers and cell phones to access information that make general education classes go by easier.

The first 60 credits of your degree go toward finishing your general education requirements. These classes are normally pretty boring and can easily be passed with the use of Google searches.

This presents a problem for students. Being able to quickly and conveniently look up the information can help you pass. However, we are not retaining the knowledge for long term use for quizzes and tests. We also miss the point of taking general education classes.

The point of these classes, and knowing how to find answers in books, is that they are teaching you how to learn and look up the answers you need to know in a way that helps you better remember that information.

Interestingly enough, the brain is like ordinary muscles in our body in the sense that it needs to be exercised to be used to its full ability.

The CEU Group, an organization specializing in the science behind memory, reports that the more effort you put into remembering something, the better you will be able to remember it.

So if you are just googling all the answers to your homework, you will get the answers and possibly a good grade, but the information is not staying in the long-term memory, which hurts you over time.

A study done through Science magazine in 2011 found that when someone expects to be able to find information later, they were less able to recall it when they needed it without looking it up. If you are not retaining information or listening in class, then what is the point of going?

The point of going lies in the drive to be the best, to know the most about the subject so you can go and discover new things and become a leader in your field.

If everyone is looking up information on the web, and no one is taking the time to study and write the information, there would be no new findings. The same old information is recycled over and over.

By not taking the time to learn about the subject or remember anything about it, we are hampering our own progression of knowledge in all fields of study. This gives us a stagnant pool of information that gets reused while no new information is being made or discovered.

That is the importance of remembering and learning information pertaining to what you are interested in. The general education part of the degree is there to help you learn how to study and retain information so when you get to your major classes, you are prepared to use those skills so you can become self-reliant and add to the pool of knowledge.

Also the more information you can recall off the top of your head, the more respected and admired you will become in your field, opening up gateways to promotions and raises.

If you just slip by looking up all the answers, you could get stuck or left behind in your profession.

Balance is needed to achieve a good education. It is not just about learning random bits of information. It is about learning how to learn so you can be better prepared for your major classes and for a fulfilling professional life.

Branch, a sophomore journalism major from Brunswick GA, is an opinion writer.