“Knowledge is power”. From the well-known philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), this well-known quote is probably familiar to most people. However, gaining new knowledge can be quite a struggle. If you ask people about their opinions on the best way to learn new things fast, most have no clear idea. I’ve always thought that this is quite odd, learning new things is so essential in our society, and there should be a “golden method” since this is something everyone does all the time.
Born with great curiosity about how things work and the opportunity to put it into practice, especially during my academic life as a Chemistry department student at Neuchatel-Switzerland where I studied to become engineer, I’ve figured out the absolute best way that works for me. This is what I’d love to share with you in this blog article.
But first, let’s take a step back to what I think is the root cause; In school, you are supposed to learn a lot of new subjects and acquire a lot of skills and gain knowledge that you should carry with you for the rest of your life. However, most people seem to forget the things they have learned almost immediately after their exams. This is because most schools don’t actually teach the most important thing of all: how to learn! They focus more on the “what” than on the “how”.
The result is that people do some trial and error until they found a method that works well enough for them and then never reflects upon it again. One big reason behind this is that most other people seem to struggle in the same way.
A school that doesn’t show you how to learn but immediately sticks you a task to solve instead is like giving a child a box of Lego and teach it how to put two pieces together, but never how to read the building instructions. Expecting this child to build a castle or the latest Star Wars ship is of course totally unrealistic.
You can also resemble it to building a house. If you start without any blueprint or any previous experience connecting things here and there, you might end up with something, but certainly not a house.
So to the point, there are some steps that I always take when I want to get familiar with a new subject and learn new things as fast as possible and in a way that makes me remember them.
The best way to learn new things fast.
When you want to learn a new skill and build a house, the first thing is to have a solid foundation. Building a house without foundation is a perfect recipe if you want to make it collapse. The same applies to learn.
When it comes to learning, this foundation is the sum of all your previous experiences and knowledge. For example, if you want to learn a new physics topic, you must first understand the underlying mathematics. If you don’t, you will have enormous trouble. It’s like climbing a ladder where the first steps are missing.
If you realize that this is the case, your main focus should be on creating these steps before you continue climbing. This can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you have some deadline, but it is essential to do this first if you want to succeed. Try to identify these gaps beforehand, or if you encounter some on the way, take a step back and learn them before you continue.
It might sound obvious, but the reality is that many people ignore this and continue, hoping it will solve itself in the end. One common example is words and expressions you don’t understand. Having this approach will take a longer time in the end but also the amount that will stick in your brain is much less.
When you want to learn a new thing, you should always try to connect one thing you don’t know with something you already know. Trying to learn multiple new things at once will not work without any reference to previous experiences.
I really hope you liked this first part of the article on what I’ve found to be absolutely how to learn new things fast. In the next part, I will go through the approach you should have when starting gathering information about the subject you are learning, and what many people do wrong.
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