Learn and live better
A few simple techniques can help you make full use of your brain power, says Jitendra Nagpaleducation Updated: Aug 12, 2009 09:25 IST
Life and learning go together. You cannot separate the two. A person who is happy and in harmony with the world is one who learns from life every day.
Scientists say that the average person uses only a small part of the brain in his/her lifetime. The rest is there, but untapped. And because of that, most people give up trying to work hard, to memorise, to unlearn and relearn. But learning does not have to be drudgery. It can be fun, an easy, joyful process of opening your life to new vistas and expertise, if you get your entire brain in on the act. Therefore, the first step is to use both sides of your brain. Research has shown that the brain has two sides, or hemispheres, and that they function very differently but in consensus.
Most classroom teaching only makes use of the left hemisphere, which works with facts — this is logical, point-by-point thinking. But the right hemisphere works with feeling — this is where fantasy, imagination, mental imagery and intuition reside. When both hemispheres are involved in learning, the process is easier, faster and much more enjoyable.
The right way
A young brain absorbs information much faster, that we have heard before. But now there is evidence that the ease of learning is also related to how the information is assimilated by the brain. The way children learn their mother tongue is very different from the way most of us learn a foreign language in school. Traditional methods of language study involve memorising big blocks of vocabulary and grammar. This mental manipulation of foreign words with no ‘feel’ of real experience to reinforce them is rather difficult for all but the most gifted students.
The idea behind a total physical response is to use a big part of your mind that most educators neglect — the right hemisphere of the brain. ‘Right brain learning’ is so much more effective that it helps ordinary students pick up a language almost as fast as those considered the brighter lot. Research tells us that the following techniques
Picture your world: An effective way to engage the right hemisphere is to think in visuals. People are taught to think only in words, to hear words in their head, but not to make pictures. But you learn more effectively if you make a picture in your head about the material you are dealing with. Think of it as ‘constructive daydreaming’. If you want to improve your life, make reflective imagery — of getting along with your husband or wife or of communicating with your boss or dealing with traffic calmly.
Recharge your brain: Relaxation is a skill that is most crucial in a fast-track life. Anxiety interferes with learning. Yoga or transcendental meditation is very helpful in calming the mind and making a person more receptive to new learning.
Listen to music: While yoga and relaxation techniques are used before studying, listening to music when studying helps the mind focus. However, this must be slow, melodious music, not loud rock beats. The music brings one to a balanced mental state so that one is able to absorb, retain and recall information much more easily.
Feed the brain: The right diet is one of the basics for good memory. Eat properly. Also, the right posture, working in a ventilated room, all help you. Deep, slow, rhythmic breathing during a study session is very helpful in maintaining an alert state of mind. These techniques will enrich your life.
The right notes
Not good at taking notes? Try this
The two-column method: Divide your note paper into two columns. On the right, make a big column. On the left, keep a small column, about an inch wide. Take notes in the big column. Highlight important concepts, facts and main headings in the small column
The split-page method: Divide your note paper in two equal columns. Take notes in the right column. Later, outline the material in the left column
The three-column method: Divide your note paper into three equal columns. Take notes in the first column. After class, outline the material in the second column. Write questions in the third column
Group notes: Form a group with classmates. Take turns writing the notes. After class, get a copy of the group notes. Add missing information. Share notes with group