Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Lost Art of Copying Stuff Down

Take notes! Take notes! Take notes!

Such was the method of learning when I was in school, as the teacher knew it all, and the student was there to....take notes. It was a skill that carried over to other areas of life, I took a message on the phone by writing it/copying it down. If something was important, I wrote it down.

When is the last time you(as a student) needed to copy something down outside of school. What I mean is, when you organize information for writing a paper on it, how do you do it? Do you copy those notes down, then open up a word document to write it? I can speak from personal experience in writing papers for graduate school, any information that I gather gets copied and pasted or typed directly into a Word document. The sweet part is that it's there forever (until I delete it). No need to manage a bunch of spare pieces of paper or a notebook. It's actually much more efficient to keep an electronic version.

Where am I going with this? Oh school, your main task is usually to "copy these notes down!!!!". Is there any wonder that your skill level at it is incredibly low? No offense, you just weren't brought up to keep your information via pen and paper. As a matter of fact, it is a skill you will rarely need. Yeah, I said it.

"But what about at college, don't you have to take notes in class?" No. Why not spend your time paying attention in class instead of writing things down? If you have never learned by writing down what someone else was writing, it won't all of the sudden start to happen because you're in a univesity setting.

The alternative and better means of note-taking: pay attention in class and maybe jot down a question or two that you might have (then ask it). Go home, Google whatever you were talking about that day and you will likely find a course page, someone's notes, or a tutorial on that topic. Read through all of those and synthesize all of the information you've received. No paper, no notebooks, just your brain. Yes, you're going to find a ton of information, and it's going to be exactly the same as what you are being instructed on. Statistics is still Statistics whether it comes from someone at North Penn High School or San Diego.