There are some skills that you learn in life that may seem small, but turn out to be truly important. One of those is the ability to study. It is made up of a collection of items that will advance anyone who learns them. I’d like to share three of them with you.
The first is how to listen well. As children, we can make the mistake of assuming that listening is being quiet when others are talking. If we’re not careful, we may dabble with this as children, and perfect it as adults.
Listening well isn’t only about paying attention, it’s about seeking to understand. This can involve asking follow up questions, and repeating back to the person what you heard. This way, if what you heard, and what they intended for you to hear is different, it can be clarified.
Pastor Denny Livingston teaches a wonderful lesson on listening. In it he explains that most people aren’t listening to what someone’s saying, only listening for an opening. As soon as the opening presents itself, they say what they were planning to say while the other person was talking. This shows that they were never really listening to begin with. I think that we’ve all been guilty of that, but it’s advice that we can listen to and prevent.
The second point is how to take notes. In this case, it’s not so much that one system is better than another. It’s more that you need a system of taking notes. For some, an outline is the most effective way to retain knowledge. Others may use a form of shorthand they can understand.
Taking notes you comprehend is only half of it. You need to make sure your system is legible to others. This ability will be an asset from high school and college, to the workplace and beyond. Whether it’s a co-worker needing meeting notes, or a loved one helping you record a family history, they’ll need to be able to read your notes. This also will save you as you get older when that shorthand system gets harder to remember.
That leads into the third point in our post, making lists. No, this isn’t the same as taking notes. Notes are usually about research taken, lists are about items to be done.
This is more than a grocery list, or a set of resolutions, it’s about planning. Isn’t it funny, we plan vacations, but many don’t plan their everyday life? I’m not talking about control, life and lists aren’t about that, they are about being prepared for the unknown.
You can’t make a list to prevent a pipe from bursting, but you can have a list of repairmen in a drawer for when it does happen. Bloggers like myself have an idea box list. We write down little things on our phones, napkins, and post-its to use later.
All three of these tools are proactive things you and I can do to enhance our learning ability. This will help at home, in the work place, in studying the Bible, or even learning a hobby. Knowledge is a source of energy, and like electricity you need to know how to flip the switch. The power of study is the activator for your learning, and it’s never to late to develop it.