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I think that the only technique that made me learn something was visualizing -if it's even technique. I was never taught how to learn in school. And even visualizing happened only sometimes, automaticly, when I liked something. Or if it wasn't intimidating. I have trouble remembering most of the stuff I've "learned" in highschool and even university. Because most of us relied on ROTE memorization. Repeat until it temporarily sticks to your brain.

I want to know how successful learners learn. Is it just visualizing? And how do they work around more complex topics?

What can I do to learn better, to understand something the best way possible so I can do whatever I see fit with it? So it sticks for life, not just a day,week or month.

Maybe the question is somewhat crazy, because I'm not interested in dividing content into manageable chunks or learning for exam. I'm more interested in a thought process. What a successful learner does to understand the subject? The approach is what interests me the most. Because I can divide content, make notes, listen to lecture, but wrapping the mind around something is questionable. I have no idea if I'm actually learning or just trying to remember a list.

If you have a link or idea how do I look for the explanation,please provide it in your answer. I don't mind personal experience if certain thing worked for you, as long as SE doesn't mind.

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3 Answers 3

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Because most of us relied on ROTE memorization. Repeat until it temporarily sticks to your brain.

Memorizing something isn't bad, per se. Memorizing without understanding is bad. Even today I memorize things that I know I need frequently. Think of this as a computer caching its data. If it can access data faster, it will be more productive. That is my analogy for memorizing things.

I want to know how successful learners learn. Is it just visualizing? And how do they work around more complex topics?

Visualizing, reading, doing it, etc. Do what you feel works best. I am a programmer. For me, learning a new technology means building something using it, no matter how crappy. You will remember the most of what you do rather than what you read or hear.

If you are learning a new language like German or whatever, why not maintain a diary / journal?

What can I do to learn better, to understand something the best way possible so I can do whatever I see fit with it?

There is a series of programming books called Head First that are designed to help programmers learn things in a 'better' way. In the introduction they explain that whenever you are learning something new and your brain says that you cannot read / do anymore, give it a break. Human brain takes time to process things. Sit back, relax and let it permeate into your head.

Because I can divide content, make notes, listen to lecture, but wrapping the mind around something is questionable.

Again, in software engineering, there is something called "Problem Decomposition". No non-trivial software can be understood in one piece; you cannot wrap your head around it. Hence, you break it down into smaller, manageable, and understandable pieces. You are learning. Trust yourself..

Also have a look at A better approach to studying?

Update1:

Also, my friend tells me to stop reading and start doing

You never stop reading. You read and do simultaneously.

I don't know how much is enough to start.

Once you know the basic concepts, it is more than enough. Then use "Just In Time" method to learn what you need, when you need.

but don't believe I can develop even simple projects on my own.

Yes, you can. Stop putting yourself down.

If you don't mind.. how old are you and are you a student?

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" Memorizing without understanding is bad." <- I think this happened to me a lot.Especially during primary and high school. Even tho I learned programming before,during university, many things didn't stick. It's like a swiss cheese. Some things I can imagine, and they sticked. Others were in my head for a while,and then vanished. Also, my friend tells me to stop reading and start doing. I understand i should be doing, but don't believe I can develop even simple projects on my own. I don't know how much is enough to start. It seams people are nailing it and I can't w/out hilding some1s hand. –  JunJun Jun 8 at 16:51
    
@JunJun Updated my answer. –  Little Child Jun 9 at 3:46
    
I'm almost 25 and in few months (2-3 at most) I have to finish my MS project to get a degree. Then I'll have to look for a job. Btw, thanks for encouragement and advice. –  JunJun Jun 9 at 20:48
    
@JunJun I am 7 years younger to you :P –  Little Child Jun 10 at 6:33
    
you seem much wiser than me. I realized yesterday I didn't break my project into chunks small enough to process in my mind. So my mind went berserk. :D Tho I'll still have to find what suits me best when it comes to memorizing ideas/concepts permanently. Thanks :) –  JunJun Jun 10 at 6:53

Your brain stores 7 +/- 2 things in working memory.

You can keep drilling these things until they stick.

Or you can encode them. Here's an example, memorize the following number: 1274191101

It goes beyond the working memory limit, so it's almost impossible to memorize with one go.

Now break it down into the following.. 12/7/41 and 9/11/01, the dates of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

You'll memorize that number instantly, because you only have to memorize the attacks on USA. Your brain encodes it and then decodes it into two dates and then a long number.

Something like 100000000002 is easy to memorize. It's one+ten zeroes+two. This is because it's broken down into 3 different chunks, instead of 12.

Your brain functions best with images. Information is not stored as bits like with a computer. It's stored as neurons, linked to one another. One memory standing alone will be pruned or filtered out. A memory linked to another memory will be easily recovered. Think of it like folders on your main drive - if you have a thousand things on your desktop, you'll never be able to find anything.. they'll drown each other out. Rote memorization is something like that.. once the brain sees something accessed often enough, it builds a folder.

But you can't actually build 'folders' in your brain, this is done by the brain itself. You can, however, toss it into an existing 'folder'. Like tossing that number into the historical part of your brain. One of the biggest 'folders' in our brain is the 'dirty thoughts' one, and it's well-utilized by memory athletes.

The brain remembers images best. Learn to construct a Memory Palace. This tricks the brain into remembering things better, by applying your brain's ability to remember spatial things and absurd images better.

Knowledge is best learned if immediately applied, but if you can't do that, memorize by using imagery. Taking notes is a last resort if you can't memorize or apply.

Check out the book Moonwalking With Einstein for more details. Ancient philosophical books cover memory even more extensively, as it was an absolutely vital skill for any scholar before the printing press.

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I thought about using memory palace before, but one thing bothered me..i have to imagine this whole place just to store data in it, and it seems it'll take a lot of effort to just construct a palace first. Or I should start from a shack until i build a palace idk. :D Did you try it? does it work for any specific area? sounds interesting tho, that Sherlock dude used it in a tv series. –  JunJun Jun 15 at 20:49
    
Use a familiar place as your first palaces. Your childhood home. An office. Favorite shopping malls and rows of shops you're familiar with. Artistic streets in your city (the colorful ones with unique buildings and graffiti/murals are great). Memory athletes often take walks somewhere near home, memorize the architecture of a place, and use it as a memory palace. You don't even need to map out the whole place, just as much as you're willing to go. –  Muz Jun 17 at 9:01
    
If you want to memorize a shopping list... say, meat, fish, Nutella, you can even store all three in a single room. I'd memorize it as an angry bull (meat) chewing into a smelly fish (fish) in my kitchen sink, while a anthropomorphic nut stands at a counter, chopping up chocolate bars (Nutella). The more absurd your imagination, the more detail and senses you integrate, the more likely you'll remember it. –  Muz Jun 17 at 9:05

I am a student and I have looked for many different methods of learning too - speed reading, visualization, mind-mapping, associations etc. And what I realize is that most of them are more time consuming then when you just grab the book and start reading.

I guess it's human nature to distract ourselves from being productive. Find what motivates you, there is nothing difficult to learn if you are passionate about the subject.

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