Welcome to Five on Friday, a round-up of views on a theme. Today we cover the role of trivia, fun facts and wacky information in the way we learn and how you can turn something boring into something that will stick in your mind. Here are five perspectives on fun ways to feed your brain.
When I was a young wordsmith, one with far more time than I have today, I decided it was a good idea to read the dictionary. The process was not as boring as it sounds. For starters, I learnt a whole bunch of new words I could use to insult people without them realising. My favourite was 'jejune', defined as 'intellectually dissatisfying' but also 'naive, simplistic, and superficial' or 'dry and uninteresting'.
Reminded of this alphabetised adventure the other day, I decided to find out what other fun methods we could use to study, retain information and generally get our heads around a concept.
1. Info, graphs and infographics
Let's face it, data on its own is pretty jejune so the media has learnt to spice info up with graphs and graphics. Even if the information is fairly innocuous, the process of organising it into a graph can help you get your head around what the data means.
Take, for example, this fun article about sandwich fillings, where journalist Nick Evershed discovers a link between number of sandwich fillings, its deliciousness, and the structural integrity of the sandwich by graphing 348 responses to his sandwich survey. The conclusion? "Adding more ingredients to your sandwich will make it slightly more delicious, but it will make it moderately harder to handle." Which means you need to balance taste buds with dexterity when you next bring out the sandwich bread.
Or here's another take that may have made you more interested in geography: 40 Maps They Didn't Teach You in School.
2. What can we learn from TV shows and films?
A lot, actually! Okay, so it depends on what you're watching. But pick the right show and it could give you a new perspective on a subject. Breaking Bad may not have as much chemistry in the later episodes as it does at the beginning, but there's a lot more, er, commerce. And who hasn't learnt a little history from a good period drama? Vikings anyone?
3. Out in the world
I remember when I was in Year 8 and we went to a theme park for a maths excursion. Friends also report going the same park for physics. And who hasn't been to the zoo for biology?
In my opinion, there are far too few excursions being taken by adult students. Taking a hospitality course? Do a food safari! If you're learning to be an architect, how about a building tour? Studying event management? Let me tell you about these things called 'festivals'...
4. Have a laugh
The results are in: when something is funny, we're more likely to remember it. This can range from a bit of word play to a constructed joke, or something of a combination, like these incredibly nerdy science jokes. The trick is to find a joke that actually teaches you something useful. Or for economics nerds there's this rap on Hayek versus Keynes.
5. Turn to the arts
Another way to enhance your learning is to express what you've learnt. Teaching someone what you've learnt reinforces lessons, as my friend (who taught anatomy to her cat) will attest, but it's not nearly as fun as getting a little creative with that expression.
See if you can:
Spice up your study with a few of these tricks and you will breeze through your course. Or you could just become really good at pub trivia, which is almost as good, though probably less useful for your career. Have a great weekend!
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Your polite manner in handling my personal enquiry is what I associate with the interested and helpful ethic of the ultra-professional diplomatic staff in diplomatic circles where I used to work.
Richard J - Student