Learning how I Learn

Tags: books

I never expected to shoot for a sociology minor. Not a single bit of the “Intro to Sociology” class sounded interesting to me. “Social Stratification in America”, though, sounded very interesting. It was an evening class, and I could get a full day in at the bomb factory, and I’d get a social science credit without taking a ridiculous intro class.

For three hours each week Dr. Carroll would lecture a rushing river of sociological consciousness. She’d glance at notes, but only occasionally. Each and every week. A couple of other facts: she was known in the department as a brutal tester, and there was no text book. I rebuilt my atrophied note taking muscles in record time.

The rumors of her tests were true. Only my abstract algebra class compared. She handed back the first test, and I deflated. “Shit! 65%! So much for an easy social science credit!” But I was in luck, because I had set the curve in a room full of social science majors. My notes made it all possible.

Fast forward to today. I can tell you which books I’ve read in the last few years. I can also tell you if I liked them. I can’t tell you much beyond that in many cases. There’s knowledge buried in my subconscious, I hope, but I can’t confirm it.

I know reading is important, and I love reading. It just felt like I was missing out on most of the fruits of it.

I started an experiment in December, and I can report that things are turning around. I heard the Manager Tools crew talk about reading one hundred books in a year, and I decided I should do at least half of that. And if I was going to get through one hundred books, I should take notes during the process.

In addition to the great stuff in the books, I’ve (re)learned how I learn: through writing notes. I’ve become a bit obsessive about having a notebook or text editor nearby at all times, and I’m better for it already.

If I’m reading to learn, I’m also taking notes.

If I’m listening to learn, I’m also taking notes.

If I’m watching to learn, I’m also taking notes.

Feel like you could use a nudge in the right direction regarding notes and books? Recall that the Manager Tools guys have a cast about everything, including How to Read a Book.

I appreciate you humoring me if all of this is common sense to you.
If you have all of this figured out already, I’d love to hear what comes next. I promise I’ll take notes.