Most of us associate studying with school classes. There are people who loved it, while others felt like it was a torture to sit through the weekdays. Our relationship to studying is principally influenced by the quality of our school environment and by the attitude of our teachers. A truly dedicated, good teacher brings out the best from everyone. When we are not lucky enough to have great teachers, we still can do a lot for being successful students. It’s important to know that our level of intelligence has only 15 % share of determining how lucrative we are in learning. In this article we give some information on studying methods in a slightly atypical way.
Because our site deals with the Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes, we try to present studying from his aspect. If you want to stop reading telling he was a genius who did not need to learn at all, because he could do anything as easy as snapping his fingers, then you make a big mistake. Sherlock became the best in his profession because he spent long years studying hard, and continuously trained himself. We do not say that reading this article gives you extraordinary studying abilities. We only try to show some learning methods using Sherlock Holmes as an example. We do hope that this way the text will be a little bit more interesting. Let’s start!
1. A FEW WORDS ABOUT STUDYING
When we study, we collect information in various forms. Our brain records the content of the things, in other words, it stores the information in the form of connections. The knowledge we acquired is our ’treasure’ – this way we get to know more and more things and who knows when will these infos come handy. During his investigations Sherlock made use of lots of the things he learned – to identify the ashes of different tobacco types, scents, impressions of bicycle tyres, poisons, typeface of newspapers, and so on. He had a vast knowledge of inventions, scientific novelties, legends, beliefs, and even society gossips. He was fully aware of that his success is in a great part due to his familiarity with as much topics as possible. That’s why he tried to attain a wide spectrum of knowledge.
2. THE STYLES OF STUDYING
According to the method of getting the information we distinguish three styles of studying.
1. Auditive – people belonging to this style can study the best when they hear the text. The most efffective way of learning for them is to use audio and repeat the texts.
2. Visual – the biggest help for them is what they see. Their learning is based on read text, pictures, figures and graphics. That’s why it is very important to read effectively and fast. And as an added bonus, reading is a great way of relaxation (You can read more here: The importance of reading).
3. Motoric – people who use motoric style of studying move a lot during learning, and sometimes they take notes as well.
Just remember that Sherlock has a chalkboard that often aids him while he’s thinking. Writing on it helps him systematize his thoughts. The chalkboard plays a central role in cracking the code (which is also a way of studying) of the little dancing men.
Nobody belongs solely to one of the three category. We have to learn by experience which is the most effective for us. Students get their school-work mainly in written/printed form. A good textbook contains many pictures, graphs and illustrations besides the text. The more sense organs we use during studying the deeper will be the imprinting. As a general rule we can say that we remember 10 % of what we read, 20 % of what we hear and 30 % of what we see. When we hear AND see a text at the same time, we can recall 50 % of it later. And when we say it out loud what we’d like to learn besides hearing and seeing it, 70 % of it fixates in our brain. And when we go still further and DO what we say out loud, 90 % of the new knowledge can remain in our memory.
3. STUDYING AND MEMORY
What we would like to learn, we have to fix in our memory, in a way that we’ll be able to recall the information when we need it. Memory has three types:
1. ultra short-term – it saves information for about 20 seconds
2. short-term – it has finite capacity, and saves information for about 20 minutes. As new information arrives, the old ones fall out continuously – this process is called exclusion. That’s why it’s not recommended to study same subjects after each other. What we learn with cramming or with multiple reading, gets stored in this type of memory.
3. long-term – it stores data for a lifetime and its capacity is infinite. We can add information here with imprinting.
We have to interpret what we study. Pay attention to connections and logical links. Before imprinting create a comprehensive picture about the things we have to learn. Highlight the essence, and make a sketch. Graphics and charts help memorizing things. Keywords make studying easier. The beginning and the end of the school-work fixates more easily, that’s why we have to pay more attention to the middle part. We can increase the capacity of our memory when we arrange the information into groups.
We better remember the things we learnt before falling to sleep. Keep in mind that our brain is mainly for thinking, not for storing. Sherlock Holmes said the same with his famous brain attic metaphor.
CBS ELEMENTARY - with Jonny Lee Miller
BBC SHERLOCK - with Benedict Cumberbatch
Memorize data that are really important. We have to reduce texts to the essence.
Studying is the most effective when we spent 60 % of it with self-check (we say out loud the material), and 40 % we devote to repetition. Saying out loud the material helps to find out whether the information really got into our long-term memory. Distribute the number of repetitions. The newer the data are the more we have to repeat. If we sort the information, we recall it easier. The most effective is when we knowingly sort data even at storing.
4. MECHANIC LEARNING
There are some things that we have to memorize exactly (numbers, dates, names, foreign words, formulae). These usually don’t contain logical connections, and can be learned mechanically. It’s important to mention that we memorize new things easier when we can link them to things we already know. When we have to memorize a number, try to link it to another that’s familiar to us. If it’s too long, divide it into smaller parts. A familiar number can be: age, anniversary date, house number, lucky number. Mechanic learning is aided by mnemotechnics. These help us to imprint the information, irrespective of its meaning. Using mnemotechnics, our brain makes connections between the different information in our memory, and this connection makes the recall easier. Mnemotechnics rely mostly on imagination while storing and recalling data. This way the duration of learning becomes substantially shorter, but they do not help understanding. Instead of passive studying, we have to deal actively with our school-work.
A few examples of mnemotechnics
- creating a story – we make a story using the things we have to learn. It has very high efficiency.
- highlighting and memorizing keywords
- association – we connect an already fixed memory with the new information
- acronyms and acrostics – we create words or sentences from the initials of keywords
Alongside the outer requirements (Recommended site: The science of deduction 1.) the success of our studying depends on inner requirements as well. These are the following:
If we believe that we are able to do a task, solely this positive attitude means a bigger chance to success. Just imagine Sherlock Holmes – he began his investigations with the firm belief that he’ll solve the mystery. Our brain carries out our instructions – that’s why it matters what kinds of thoughts we have. It’s important to send positive, encouraging thoughts and messages (for example: I will succeed! I am good at learning!). It has a further beneficial effect as well. If we have faith in ourselves and we are self-conscious, we’ll broadcast it to our environment. Sherlock Holmes is an excellent example for this too – his presence shows confidence and self-assurance.
’Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.’ (Richard Bach, American writer)
Motivation is the inner driving force that pushes us towards our goals. It encourages us to start something and accomplish it. If we have the right motivation, there are no obstacles in our way. We have to have a goal that makes studying worthwhile and gives it a meaning. Sherlock’s most important aim is to help his clients. This is a truly magnificent aim that is worth every hardship. He saves lives with his investigations, does many victims justice, prevents or arranges diplomatic conflicts. Of course we can be satisfied with less pretentious goals, but Conan Doyle’s world famous hero sets the good example for us.
We memorize those things much easier that are within our range of interest. That’s why it’s essential to search for a linking point in the material we have to learn that we are interested in. It may happen that we stumble upon some topics or specialties that become our favourite.
4. Emotional charge
The mood we are in when we start studying makes a huge difference. We can be really effective when our nervous system is calm and relaxed.
We have to be relaxed when we begin studying, and we have to strive to maintain it meanwhile we learn. Take small breaks, to let our nervous system and body regenerate. During these breaks we have to do a completely different activity. Holmes also relaxed – he played the violin, read or went to the opera. As a way of relaxation, we can do some minor exercises that quickens our blood circulation.