Learning which way it’s best for you to learn has always been sensible. But now it’s looking likely to be ever-more important – for you and everyone else.
Exams have been a source of tension and worry for many for as long as I can remember. Exam results can be very significant for future careers and, indeed, future lives.
Obviously enough, learning about a subject normally precedes an examination in it. For a while I did a little tutoring and it was then that I properly grasped the importance of understanding that how people learn is a variable factor. Simply, some folks learn well from a text book, some people need to see examples, others need to get hands-on, and so on. There are plenty of permutations. The point is, how well someone does in an exam can often depend on whether the way they learned/were taught the subject suited them.
The question of understanding the best way to learn might apply to you personally or to someone you have some influence over; if you have children for example. Unfortunately, the academic system, for good reasons or bad, might well not bring out the best in someone because it isn’t providing teaching in ‘the right way’ for him or her. And if that’s the case then the best anyone can do is try to find work-arounds or tactics to cope with the mis-match as best as one can.
And no, none of this gets over having to take and pass exams. But if the way you were taught (or taught yourself) suits you, at least you can come to an exam well prepared. Incidentally, practice ‘mock’ exams can often help take away a lot of the nervousness. (And yes, this does leave aside the broad question of the value of exams as a measure of ability.)
Hang On, I’m Not At School Anymore
If you’re thinking that finding the way to learn that’s best isn’t relevant to you any more, and that you’ve left having to handle exam-related stress behind you, it might be wise to think again.
First-up, there are plenty of other exams that might crop up in life outside of an academic context – gaining professional qualifications as your career progresses for example, or learning a new skill purely for pleasure – just because it interests you.
But what’s more, there’s a (relatively) new kid on the block in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). And whatever the subject, it seems AI is or will be very, very far-reaching.
Yes, the common focus for the actual and potential implications of AI-created change is on its impact on the job market … and yes, an awful lot of us are at work, one way or another.
But it’s a broader topic than that, because it seems likely that AI is or will bring change to pretty well every aspect of life outside of the workplace context too. It may just bring about change, neither inherently good nor bad. But the change it brings about might evolve into being a threat. Will anyone value your personal skills (whatever they are) if AI can perform them far more effectively?
With that potential AI-created competition in mind, then everything above about understanding what approach to learning best suits you personally becomes even more relevant. Being someone who knows how they best learn can help assure a future role and purpose – both in and out of the work place scenario. It can help distinguish you, personally, as able to do things, know things, understand things that AI alone can’t.
And to turn all that AI-induced stress around, these hugely and constantly expanding machine-learning capabilities are making accessible a huge raft of new information, and this can make your life much, much richer. What you need to do is embrace it – and knowing which way of learning things best suits you will help you to do just that. Add in a healthily large dash of curiosity and maybe the future will be so bright you’ll have to wear sunglasses. And yes, this all applies to me as much as it does to anyone else – whoever you are, however old you are, wherever you live.