Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now hear this!

One key mistake we make when studying for our subjects is that we use our eyes. That sounds counter-intuitive as the material we study from is textual and is therefore accessible via the eyes.

But the eyes are much better used for observing events, that is, for gathering data first-hand. Visual input goes straight to a binary decision-making flip-switch that responds through instinct, not logic. The two options are MOVE or STAY. MOVE breaks down to two possibilities -- Fight or Flight -- in response to a perceived threat. STAY is the primary default state (due to the Law of Conservation of Energy). There is no time to process visual stimulus. Whether one ends up as someone else's lunch or whether we get to consume another meal is highly dependent on instant recognition of a threat and the instant reaction to it.

Study through the eyes messes up our mental state. We experience a sensation akin to fear due to the stress we are under when studying. Instinct tells us to MOVE, but visually there is no real, physical, urgent threat to MOVE TO confront or AWAY FROM to avoid. So we STAY in a confused state until ennui sets in. Actually learn anything? In that state of mind, y'think?

Text is language-based, and the eye doesn't apprehend language at all. Text is, after all, second-hand knowledge. Language is a translation of different stimulus input that has to undergo a process of encoding (where it becomes an idea) before it can be relayed to another person who then has to undertake a decoding process in order to apprehend the idea being transmitted.

This process involves the faculties of reasoning based on logic and requires a common set of shared ciphers and congruent reference points in order to function. The eye has no time for all this processing. Language is fully dependent on our sense of hearing and our ability to listen, not just to the text itself, but also the undercurrents of emotion and nuance that are all but invisible but not to the empathetic ear which picks up inflection and tone and recognizes further meaning in them.

Kids, when you study from text or any other visual stimulus, the best sensory organ to use are your ears.  The listening path is the more direct route to the processing parts of your brain if you are apprehending knowledge through language. The idea that we are visual learners requiring varied visual input to learn is a myth. The reason why we learn faster from video is not due to the image itself, but rather the accompanying audio track that tells us what the hell is going on.


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