Monday, September 27, 2010

What I Learned Today: Study Habits

A 9/6/10 article in the NYT talked about new research on study habits and retention of material.  One is related to not using the same space to study.  By moving locations (we think) the brain creates associations between background information and the information studied, thereby making it easier to recall the information.

Anecdotally, I've known this to be true for me, as I am often more focused and retain more info when I am away from my offices (home and work), on a plane or in an out of town hotel.

The 2nd retention notion is to vary the material that is studied in one sitting.  If studying a foreign language, read, study vocabulary, practice speaking out loud.  Apparently musicians have known this for years.

I have a couple of students right now who show me the notes they've taken on the chapter, and then when it comes to taking the quiz, their minds go blank.  I may talk more with them about how they are studying the material.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I Learned Today: Planet Narnia

Over the past few days I've been pondering the Chronicles of Narnia and the latest finding about them from Dr. Michael Ward.  He is a C.S. Lewis scholar and in his new book Planet Narnia, he "...argues that Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles of Narnia out of the imagery associated with the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos." 

This is interesting enough to me, but what's really intriguing to me is that for years I recall reading that J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis' good friend, didn't think much of the Narnia books.  He thought they were dashed off too quickly and not well written (probably from Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings).  So, for all these years, I too thought similar things about the books.  

I'm not suggesting that I would have found the seven heavens motif if I had thought on my own, but I am saying that I allowed someone, other than the author, to influence my thinking in such a way that I never even remotely considered other possibilities.

Gulp: what other unknown unknowns am I unaware I should be aware of?