According to Dale over at pickthebrain.com, the key to meaningful learning is to find a learning partner or discussion buddy. I’ll link the article here: The Importance of Continuing Education. . . For those who won’t click the link, Dale mentions his own experiences pursuing a master’s degree and his realization that a great deal of what he was learning came not from the texts, class notes, etc. but from discussions with classmates and peers. These discussions allow learners to evaluate new information using other viewpoints and perspectives than their own.
Like Dale, I had a similar experience while pursuing my undergraduate degree. It seemed that I gleaned little from the textbook, supplementary materials, or professors, but rather learned a great deal from my classmates as we sat and deconstructed the material before and after class. While considering my classmates’ opinions and gaining from their unique knowledge on the subject, I was also able to reaffirm my own position on the topic through debate. I’m certain I can recall a great deal more about Derrida, Saussure, and the like because of these discussions than I could about the various subjects I’ve studied at length in the privacy of my home.
It’s really too bad that I’ve few friends to engage with in this kind of academic discussion, especially since my extracurricular activities are so broad. I can’t imagine there are many violin playing, stargazing English teachers out there with an interest in rebuilding cars, street-racing, writing children’s fiction, feudal Japan, linguistics/language acquisition, and agriculture. Yeah, I know, strange combination of interests. Sadly, I’m being pulled in so many directions that I can’t devote much time to any of them. Oh well. Back to my tomato plants. Or should I reread that paper on semiotics?! Oh, the decisions!