you must study to understand, not to remember

you must study to understand, not to remember

There’s a quote in the book College Sense: What College And High School Advisors Don’t Tell You About College: “If you study to remember, you will forget. If you study to understand, you will remember.”

A majority of us, poorly trained by the school system at large, perceive education as a process that requires memorizing concepts and facts in order to secure good grades in tests and exams and progress forward to the next level. While this approach might help in the short term, in the long haul it never serves us well.

The word, education, comes from the Latin root ‘Educo,’ which means educe, develop, or draw from within. At its core, education isn’t about hammering tons of information inside our brains and then testing how good we are at recalling it. Rather, it is a process of elevating our mental faculties so that we can draw the very best out of ourselves.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school student, a 9-to-5 office worker, a stay-at-home mom, or an entrepreneur, you must develop the right approach to education. If you study only to remember like most people do, over time you’ll forget what you learned. But if you study to understand, you will easily remember the subject at hand because understanding creates a deeper awareness. 

It’s not too different from the spiritual discipline of yoga — you acquire the knowledge and it gets united with your present level thinking, expanding your consciousness. And because this newly acquired knowledge becomes deeply integrated into your mind, you never lose it. It always remains with you.

Related: reading vs. applying