I was talking with my wife yesterday about our favourite subjects in school. We were thinking about what we have gained from the years we spent in school.
As we were talking and talking, I realized something about myself.
I didn’t remember the things that I studied just to pass the exam. The things I memorized, almost all of them disappeared from memory now. What a shame.
However, the things that I found interesting, whether it be in class, outside of class, in textbook, etc, those were the things that stuck with me until today.
Even if those things didn’t make it into the exam papers, I still remember them. In some cases, I still apply them in my life. The things I found interesting…those are the things I remember.
What’s my point?
My point is not that exams are not important. They are a part of our lives, a part of the system, and until we can find a better way to implement a better way to measure progress in schools, we have to adapt and live with exams. In some cases, exams are beneficial too.
What I am trying to say is something more general: about learning. Our interest, excitement, and passion about something do make a difference in how we remember and internalize the lessons we learned.
If you are not into it, then you won’t remember it. Or, in practical terms, it will be much difficult to study for it. You would have to push and strain yourself to shove the facts inside your head.
But if you are really keen about what you are learning, then you become a sponge that soaks in water without even trying too hard.
I had a chat with a lecturer about research. I asked her what made it easy for her to read all those journals while doing her research (because you have to read a lot of them and they can be quite boring).
She simply answered, “I love doing it.”
It doesn’t matter if the process is easy or difficult. If you love doing something, you will enjoy the process no matter what. Doing it doesn’t become a challenge, it becomes the reward itself.