How to Study Effectively –
Holistic Learning vs Rote Memorization
By George Wolfson
The way most learners have always thought they had to study for an exam or to learn the subject matter of their coursework was to memorize. Think of all the time spent memorizing facts, dates and other data that seemed to exist in isolation, without connection to the other facts and information that were being taught in the same course.
This way of trying to ingrain information in the mind by memory tricks is known as rote memorization and it can be a frustrating and mind numbing way to go through your educational experience – no ways to make best coursework to your professor. The worst thing about this rote memorization is that it only gives you isolated information and nothing that is part of a larger picture. The individual facts may be helpful to answer a single question, but do they really contribute to your actual understanding of the course topic and are they how to study effectively?
There is another way to learn, that way is known as holistic learning. When you compare the memorization of disjointed facts and data to the method known as holistic learning, the differences are stunning. Think of learning a fact in and of itself such as a scientific piece of information. If you try to memorize a specific fact such as a law of physics, you are learning something that is part of a much larger whole body of knowledge, and it has its place in a bigger picture than just the one piece of physical law that it covers. The holistic method of learning puts that fact in context of physical laws as a whole and the learning of Newton’s laws of physics becomes a more sensible and easy to recall concept. The information on how to study effectively for any exam or course has more to do with learning things in their natural place of a larger picture than just learning them as if they existed in isolation as a detached fact.
The reason this method of holistic learning is more effective than simple memorized facts is because the natural order of things is to be interconnected and the brain itself is composed of neural pathways that are themselves a web of interconnected impulses. This way of seeing data and understanding things that are synthesized into their place is a way to internalize the knowledge that your school courses are offering you and to really understand the information, not just spit it back as a memorized fact that you can now repeat when asked.
Much of the differences in how you can practice the holistic learning are in the basic things such as taking notes during a lecture. If you want to know how to study effectively, you will need to realize that the linear and dry concept of verbal notes on a page will be less effective than a “mind map” sort of diagram or picture that you can learn to draw that will relate the new information to all the related facts that can support it in your mind as a learned concept. This is more than just a fact that can be regurgitated when you are prompted such as the memorized old way, this is internalizing the concepts in a way that makes them part of your body of knowledge and something that you fully grasp.
The result of practicing the holistic learning methods as opposed to the traditionally memorized facts method is that you no longer will need to spend those long, torturous nights of cramming for exams in order to “feel ready”. You will know how to study effectively by having the knowledge easily stored and filed away in its proper place in your mind for quick recall when the facts are needed.