Through life as a teacher, many of my learners have always asked how they are meant to read in order for them to be able to remember what to write in the examinations.
Until recently, we have been managing a curriculum which tests us on what we know (that we can remember) not what we can do. That curriculum is in such a way that whoever remembers more of what he read emerges the star and labelled the brightest and most intelligent.
At the time of this writing, a competence-based curriculum was being implemented in S.1 and S.2. And as such S.3 all the way up are still trapped in the knowledge-based curriculum.
This post is the first in a series meant to guide those learners in the knowledge-based curriculum and any other person who want to read and commit to memory a piece of information.
Here is a list of some good practices that can help you read and memorize what you read:
1.Have enough sleep: There are lots people especially motivational gurus who will claim that hard workers have no time to sleep. This is refutable when you want to read and remember it for a long time. My recommendation is 8hours of sleep. When you have enough sleep, your brain will be flesh and able to do the work of committing your readings to memory.
This is backed by science, you can decide to not sleep in the name of working hard but true wealth involves good health, and less sleep can pause a health risk to you. The opponents of this idea will claim that 8hours is too much a time to sleep but believe me, the question is not how many hours you are awake but rather what you do in the hours awake. All you need to do is to manage the time you are awake properly. Look at the things occupying your time and see if they are worth making you fail to even sleep, to the detriment of your health. Actually, it is mismanagement of time to refuse to sleep when it’s time to sleep.
According to Robin Sharma in his book “The 5am club” (quite a good read), you need to sleep early and rise early. Particularly, by 9pm you should be on your way to sleep then rise at 5am.
2. Read in a quiet environment. It is not uncommon to find learners who think that they read well while listening to music. This comes from a school of thought that when you work while listening to music, work is fun and goes on smoothly. You might be a subscriber to this but I want to tell you that reading is not like brick-laying or farm work or those manual works that involve not much of the brain. There’s no fun way to read and memorize the structure and action of a Van-de-Graaff generator. When it comes to reading, especially if you are reading for a reason that what you read is going to either help you excel or be condemned as a failure, you better stop that luxurious way of reading. There are people who claim that they understand while reading in the presence of the music. Granted, you understand at that moment but my bet is you will never be able to present that work later if you are required to present it from your head. This is because you had a noisy environment. So whenever you are trying to read for a purpose, ensure that the surrounding is not noisy. Just know that in the end, as a student in that examination room, it will be how much you remember that will bail you out. Not how much you understood.
At this point, teachers can come in to maximize the fruits of the reading efforts of the serious learners in class by ensuring that even those who don’t want to read at least maintain silence.
3. While reading, do only that. Concentration is crucial when reading to memorize. The term multi-tasking is not very applicable when it come to the working of the brain, what we normally do is switching tasks at a certain frequency. You can’t call that multi-tasking. When you read while eating, the brain will be switching tasks and this is not good for memorizing. This my take, before you sit down to read, finish every other thing before or read before you engage in any other thing. This is also applicable in our daily execution of tasks, serial execution of tasks is more efficient than jumping back and forth on tasks in the name of multi-tasking.
4.Exercise your body. This is good for the mental health which takes the center stage when it comes to reading. I cannot stress enough the importance of exercising your body. You are not exercising to be an athlete, so in this regard, all we want is to have some sweating. Make it a habit in the morning to do some drills to the level of sweating, then conquer the day with a tight time-table and do some more exercise in the evening. I personally prefer jogging.