A common misconception is that learning is essentially absorbing information.
Students sit in class. Teachers say things. Students absorb the info. Tests are then given to see which students absorbed the most information. It’s the “learning by osmosis” idea. As long as you are in the same room as teaching, you’re bound to learn something.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And here’s the truth about studying:
All learning must be active.
You will never learn something by “osmosis.” Learning by osmosis isn’t a thing. Don’t expect to record a lecture, listen to it in your sleep, and actually learn anything.
The brain doesn’t work like that. Learning doesn’t work like that. It would be great if it did, but it doesn’t.
Another way to say this is that learning is work.
In fact, learning is really hard work. Learning by osmosis isn’t work. That’s when you take a nap on your science textbook and suddenly wake up knowing everything about the biology of a snail. (That would be nice, but again – studying by osmosis doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing.)
If you are in school full-time, you are right to approach it like a full-time job. The biggest difference is that you get the biggest pay off at the end of your education rather than every two weeks.
Since learning is work, students should think about it like that. And you haven’t worked unless you’ve produced something.
Learning by “osmosis” isn’t work; work involves creating something.
Students who want to succeed have to come to grips with this. If you’ve read a chapter, but you haven’t created anything yourself, you haven’t studied the chapter. If you’ve sat through a lecture, but you haven’t produced something from the learning experience, you haven’t studied.
To be able to consider yourself as “studying,” you need to interact with the material presented and produce something new.
We’ll give you a specific example to help make this clear: writing a paper vs. watching a movie.
Writing is hard work, but you often learn a lot. The classes where I learned the most are without fail also the same classes that I did the most writing.
Watching a movie, on the other hand, requires little work. Some minor exceptions include movies like “A Beautiful Mind” and “Inception” which definitely make you work (crazy plot lines). But if the hardest part of an activity is pouring a glass of Dr. Pepper, it doesn’t count as work.
Hopefully you can see the contrast between learning by osmosis and real studying.
Watching movies isn’t work. It’s absorbing. It’s consuming. It’s zoning out.
Studying is work. Don’t try to learn by osmosis. Study. That’s a different thing.Learning by osmosis isn't a thing... learning always requires work. #studyskillsClick To TweetAnd one last time now – learning by osmosis isn’t a thing. Ok – that’s the end of the broken record. Tell us what you think below, or check out a study skills training course to learn better ways to study.