Last month insanity got the better of me and I decided to take an accelerated learning class to get my real estate sales agent license. Ironic how once you pay for something and put the dates in your calendar you have time to get it done!! For 3 weekends, 8 am to 5 pm each day, and two Wednesday nights, I sat in class and learned about real estate.
I’ve taken classes and gone to conferences over the years, but this was like being back in school- real estate school. True to my ADHD nature, I sat at the back of the room. True to their nature, the other students with attention and learning issues were right back there with me!
This was important to me, so in preparation for the class I decided to “read” the book “Making it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Peter C Brown. This book taught me that actual learning is effortful. Research on learning has found overwhelmingly that the strategies of reading, re-reading, reading again, and highlighting that we have all be taught were the best ways to learn information- are actually big time wasters. They may be decent if you just need to cram information in for a test, but there is little actual learning that occurs using this process.
WHAT! I had invested in many colors of highlighters. I had note paper and pens to underline and make notes. I was prepared to cram for the weekly quizzes and the final test. Heck, I even had time to cram for the licensing exam. What I learned I needed to do instead was to quiz myself. And quiz my fellow classmates and let them quiz me. I needed to review the quizzes to learn from my mistakes (This did not help much, as I actually did well on the quizzes).
I got fluorescent index cards and set to creating questions from each piece of information we had to learn. I carried the cards with me reviewing them, quizzing myself and others during the week. After each quiz I kept reviewing them, as they would be on the final and on the licensing exam. My fellow classmates divided among those who joined me in self and cooperative quizzing, and those who stuck to the old ways of reading and re-reading.
The proof is in the grades…. I passed the course with a 93 (yay me!). I was the first one done on my final exam and got a 92 on that. The highest grade among the students I befriended. The licensing exam was waaaay harder than the final class exam. Thankfully, I had studied the concepts rather than just the rote answers to the information we had learned. This helped immensely. AND, I took my time and thought through my answers.
Learning can be easy, but to make it stick you may have to use some strategies that are effortful and feel hard. But the payoff is learning- not just to pass the test the next day, but to reason through and problem solve new questions based on what you have learned. While it may have been a bit insane to add another job title to my resume- it is a fun new learning experience so far- in many ways.