An example: Once, and only once in my life, did I get a short class on how to read a book. It wasn't about reading for pleasure, but about maximizing comprehension and retention.
Read the introduction and the table of contents first, then the glossary. Read the endnotes (all, if they are organized at the end of the book; chapter at a time if they are organized that way.) If there is a chapter summary or 'discussion questions' at the end of the chapter, read those next. Skim each chapter noting pictures, reading captions and noticing all words in bold. Read the sidebars.
Then you begin reading the book.
There is a classic teaching style: tell the students what they are about to learn, teach the material, then tell them what they just learned. By telling the students what they are about to get, they have a huge head-start on internally organizing the material and identifying what is important. This system does the same thing with a textbook.
When I was taught this, there was an immediate improvement in understanding, retention and test scores. And it pissed me off: Why wasn't this taught in grade school? Why in the hell did I have to wait for college for a five minute class that improved the quality of my academic life so dramatically?
I want to go in different ways with the rest of this post:
- What I think all students should be taught as young as possible: How money really works; advanced first aid; preventative medicine; the scientific method, experimental design and enough statistics to know when they are being manipulated... much much more.
- Other tricks and tips for learning, such as the most basic rule: If you don't know, ask someone who does.
- Throw away comments or short snatches of information that changed life drastically.
- There are things like breathing and walking and living that almost everyone does and very few people do at a conscious level... very few learn to do them really well. What goes into learning to live well?
Maybe later. Maybe not.
Off to work on the drill manual.
I'm working on the calendar for 2011. If you want a seminar, workshop or private lessons, contact me. If you're on my e-mail list, expect something soon.
I did a short talk on Anti-terrorism for a local college Thursday. Definitely not my specialty. The good news: I actually have a huge amount of data. The bad news: Almost all of it is under confidentiality agreements and I couldn't use most of my primary sources.
Talks coming up Monday and Tuesday at another local college: one on investigative interviewing, the other on roots of conflict.
Teaching another Savvy Authors on-line course starting November 29th. This one is on Use of Force policy.