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To memorise or to familiarise, that’s the question?

January 31, 2012

Is learning the same thing as memorising something? Could it be that we too often think about learning in that way, while there ar also other valuable other ways of learning? Take for instance ‘learning by familiarising’. Isn’t it often enough to just know about the existence of certain information, without having to remember everything about it? Especially if you are living in an environment where a lot of information is readily available, it might be worthwile to -just- familiarise yourself with a lot of it, and memorise only a little.

Ofcourse, learning is not all about memorising information, but I feel it is too much about that. For example, most learning objectives for training programmes are about ‘understanding X’, ‘knowing Y’ and ‘being able to Z’. Fewer are about ‘knowing where to look for X’, ‘knowing who to ask about Y’, or ‘why we do Z’.

I think, being familiar with, and connected to a broad range of concepts, information and meanings makes you more aware. If you are also very good at refering back to the information you are familiar with at the moment you need to have it or know more about it, I think you have an interesting mix of skills. Especially if you know why certain people, information, tools & methods are (or might be) relevant to you or others (connected to purpose).

In summary, I think we should keep on studying the topics and skills we know we need, but expand our learning repertoire more to familiarise ourselves with people, information and methods we might need later.

Q: Do you agree that, while learning, we should focus more on connecting people, information, tools & methods and purposes?

For more information on this distinction, see “Memorization vs. familiarization vs referenced learning, by Elliott Masie

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From → Learning

4 Comments
  1. Paul permalink

    How about familiarisation and creative association in order to be able to memorise at all and to recall when necessary.
    Consciously memorising stuff is a left brain approach… Include the other half!

  2. Paul, thanks I like your suggestion! Tell me more about creative association!

    • paul permalink

      with creative association (the more tacky, the more effective) you activate your right brain. you will for instance never forget the planets of our solar system when you’ve heard my Freddy Mercury story…
      This is all part of my braintraining.

  3. I believe everything said made a great deal of
    sense. However, what about this? suppose you added a little information?

    I am not suggesting your information is not good,
    but what if you added a headline that makes people want more?
    I mean To memorise or to familiarise, that’s the question? | In dubio is a little boring.
    You ought to look at Yahoo’s front page and see how they create news titles to get people to open the links.
    You might add a video or a related picture or two to grab people interested about everything’ve got to say.

    Juust my opinion, it might bring your website a
    little bit more interesting.

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