I was listening to the book Range by David Epstein today. He mentioned that some research is showing that learning slowly is better than learning fast.
After a little bit of research of my own, I feel that slow learning is a good approach to retaining that information that you need for a long time. We have all experienced very sharp forgetting curves. A forgetting curve is where you seem to retain information while it is right in front of you, but you can’t recall it a day or two later.
Slow Reading And Information Consumption
I used to get frustrated with myself because I would read 40 or 50 books each year, but I wouldn’t see changes come as quickly as I expected because of the new knowledge. I started to understand two things about reading a lot of books:
- When I read many books, there isn’t a life-altering change that comes as the result of each book. Instead, each book gives me a small tweak to the course that I am taking. Each new insight helps me chart a better path for the next steps or future actions.
- Learning doesn’t come suddenly from merely one source. It is often the overlap and reinforcement of a concept in several books that helps me finally connect the idea of how I can practically apply it. Learning from overlapping ideas that slowly take shape is the concept of slow learning.
You may not understand an idea or concept the first time you hear it. But as you listen to it many times, from different perspectives or presenters, you may start to understand more clearly.
Sometimes you must learn something quickly. But if you are going to retain the knowledge, it is best that you let it simmer, and that you practice applying the knowledge.