Delan Azabani

Learning how to learn

Imagine that you're on a bicycle, and you've been pushed to aid your start for a few dozen metres. Imagine that you've continued pedalling, thinking that you're now moving on your own, but there is in fact no chain on your bicycle. You've been fruitlessly spinning your legs, deceived by the residual velocity that is now quickly diminishing. You are in fact me, discovering that prior knowledge can only get me so far with underdeveloped study skills.

Before this year, my second year of university, I have had great fortune in performing very well in education, from primary through to tertiary. This was due to a combination of help from my parents as well as my own individual learning, especially in areas related to computing. However, this was both a blessing and a curse. I never learned how to learn new concepts, only build upon content that I was at least vaguely familiar with.

Even the second semester of my first year was subject to this. Knowing essentially all of the content of one unit, and a significant portion of the foundations required for the others meant that there was nothing completely new to be understood. I fell victim to erroneous assumptions, like the idea that reading textbooks and attending lectures were unnecessary, which worked in the past but have recently been beginning to falter.

This year, I can safely say that I can't bring enough prior knowledge or experience to the table. I simply have insufficient depth to continue avoiding the actual act of studying. I've just burned through four weeks of contact, but I feel like I know essentially nothing about the units that I am taking. Waves of assessments are flowing in as soon as the next week, and I am seriously distressed about my position.

When I set aside a whole weekend dedicated to studying a unit in every waking hour I can, I part permanently from those hours having only gained what feels like an hour or two of work achieved at best. Being unable to learn efficaciously strikes a dissonant and grating change to my perception of my mind, which now presents itself as a far duller blade.

Scarcity of time is not my biggest issue, with 14 hours of university, four tutoring and ten working. Quitting my job so that I can spend another ten hours a week impaling my head in futility against the challenge of learning won't help. Learning how to learn is best invoked over the course of a lifetime, but I will need to figure out how to catch up on years lost very soon, lest my bicycle shall come to a standstill.