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Can we learn by studying?
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24 / M / Clow Country
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Posted 3/3/08 , edited 3/3/08
Yes, this sounds like an unbelievably stupid question. I understand entirely, but please read further before casting it aside. I recently read an essay by a man by the name of Jose Ortega y Gasset on the matter of "studying" as it should be known. He defined the role of being a "student" as a false undertaking. Here is a brief excerpt:



Let us turn our attention to the normal situation of the man who is called on to study, if we use this word as meaning the studying that a student does; or, what is the same thing, let us ask what a student is. And the fact is that we then find ourselves with something as startling as was the scandalous phrase with which I began this course. We find ourselves faced with the fact that the student is a human being, male or female, on whom life imposes the need to study sciences for which he has felt no immediate, genuine need. Leaving aside the cases that are exceptional, we recognize that in the best cases the student feels a sincere, if somewhat vague, need to study 'something'--in general terms, to know, to be instructed. But the vagueness of this wish testifies a slender stock of authenticity. It is evident that such a state of mind has never lead to the creation of any real knowledge, because such knowledge is always concrete, a matter of the precise knowing of this or that; and, according to the law of the functional relationship between seeking and finding, need and satisfaction, those who create knowledge felt no vague desire for knowing, but a most concrete and specific desire to find out this or that specific thing.

This shows that even in the best of cases--and again, I repeat, saving exceptions--the desire to know, which the good student may feel, is completely heterogeneous and perhaps even antagonistic to the state of mind which led to the creation of a particular order of knowledge. Thus, the attitude of the student toward science is the opposite of that which stirred its creator (Gasset goes on to say that the scientist felt the need to find information that did not yet exist, whereas the student must feel the need for knowledge that already does)...

... If the science were not already there, the good student would not feel the need for it, which means that he would not be a student. Therefore, the matter is an external need which is imposed upon him. To put a man in the position of a student is to oblige him to undertake something false, to pretend he feels a need which he does not feel.


Basically that sums up to saying that the typical student doesn't feel any need or concern with science, but forces himself or herself to feel it anyway. No kid will ever feel the need to know information like the scientists who sought it originally. The scientist needed knowledge that was not available or known, and thus sought to know it. The scientist had no other means. The student has a textbook and the Internet, and cannot feel the need that the scientist felt, simply because the knowledge is already immediately known. Gasset concludes that "in short, it is not enough that I study. It is also necessary that I should feel the genuine need for of this, that I be spontaneously and truly preoccupied with its questions; only then will I understand the answers it tries to give. No one can thoroughly understand an answer unless he has understood the question to which it replies."

To learn, it is then not enough to be a good student and to study hard. The act of studying is necessary and useless, which is the unfortunate paradox. Gasset concludes that since studying is necessary to acquire the vast amounts of information today, and so, it cannot be thrown aside, but instead needs drastic reformation. He states that teaching must be redefined so that it's primary function is "only the teaching of the need of science, and not the teaching of the science itself, whose need the student does not feel." I agree.

Basically, I ask what you all think of this. What changes need to be made to studying so that it isn't a false undertaking? Is it a false undertaking? Is there a way to learn information beyond basic assimilation?

Today we learn by brute force, which involves trying to cram as much information as possible into our heads to prepare for the work force. This requires studying. We sometimes know why the information is necessary, and we use that to convince ourselves to bear with it and learn as best we can. That or our curiosity drives us to learn bits and pieces of it, but that only works to a degree. Very few of us genuinely feel the pressing need to know all of the information we are taught, especially not internally. So, can we actually learn this way? What, if anything, needs to change?
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28 / F / AR
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Posted 3/3/08
I want 2 learn many things.That means I want 2 know existing science & I have practical mind not creative?
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M / America, Fuck Yeah.
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Posted 3/3/08
ADD people cant learn by studying
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24 / M / Canada
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Posted 3/3/08
I for one would not want a structural engineer to be looking up how to build a bridge on Wikipedia. Studying helps you learn the basics needed to develop an understanding when you're reading more advanced stuff. Since the harder textbooks are not going to outline all the information that you should already have known from prior studying.

For example, without studying for physics and through studying gain understanding, you'll have a hard time understanding the necessary concepts of building a structure and the building will probably collapse.

It's not the problem with studying itself, it's the problem with how people study, through cramming at the last moment. Although I'm also guilty of this.
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34 / F / Monterey, CA
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Posted 3/3/08
The act of studying helps a person to create that desire... that drive to learn more...

When i was younger i wanted to be a police officer. As i grew and learned in school, things i didn't want to learn, i became interested in Science. Now, i don't care for all sciences, but i had to obtain a basic understanding of those things to be sure that i didn't care for them.

Also to function in this world, as basic understanding of a few scientific principles is key to existing and keeping up with normal society.

If all the world wasn't "forced" to learn and to educate themselves, the world would be stuck in the dark ages.

And if you didn't study you wouldn't even know what the dark ages WERE... let alone be able to hold a conversation about them.

Going through the gruelling act of studying and forcing yourself to learn something could also spark an interest in something more advanced in the subject.

It's not useless to learn. or even to force yourself to learn.

It's for the betterment of yourself as well as mankind.
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23 / F / In Raccoon City
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Posted 3/3/08
i don't know but anyon...but i gots photographic memory
studying is such a drag
Posted 3/3/08
Studying or maybe just reading an outline is a way to draw you in and get you interested in what you are going to learn or what the textbook covers. One reasoning I have for this is that to learn and completely grasp a concept you need to understand why it was needed, why it still is needed, and what the theories were and why some were wrong and some maybe thought of as wrong but give a clue to why another person revised it and came up with a new theory.
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24 / M / Clow Country
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Posted 3/3/08

Dusterbayala wrote:

Also to function in this world, as basic understanding of a few scientific principles is key to existing and keeping up with normal society.

If all the world wasn't "forced" to learn and to educate themselves, the world would be stuck in the dark ages.

And if you didn't study you wouldn't even know what the dark ages WERE... let alone be able to hold a conversation about them.


Gasset agrees. In fact he says in the essay I quoted, "If a whole generation were to cease to study, nine-tenths of the human race then alive would die a violent death."

The point is not that studying should cease to be done, but that it should redefined. The activity itself needs changing. Not just cramming, but also being fed information without application. What I personally think needs to happen, and this is what I got from the text, is that learning should be done in a defined context. The need for the information to be learned should be immediate and apparent, so that it is sought out with a genuine intent. "Teaching of a need for science and not the teaching of the science itself." A good example is a computer science class. The teacher would provide the necessary information, then assign a project that requires it's use. While doing the project, students find the immediate need for certain information, and seek it out in order to solve a problem. In doing so, the student actually understands the purpose of the information, and in doing so learns the information itself. Did the student study? Not by our definition. Did the student learn what was necessary? Yes. This is how a teacher teaches the need of the subject, and not the actual subject.

I chose an easy context though. I don't know if there is a way to avoid conventional studying with subjects like calculus.
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24 / usa
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Posted 3/3/08
studying is just a method to force people who don't want to learn to learn.
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F / I would like to b...
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Posted 3/3/08
nothing worth learning can be taught

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27 / F / beside my husband...
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Posted 3/3/08
OF COurse!!
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26 / M
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Posted 3/3/08
Studying is just a sort of "preview" that introduces the concept and highlights the main points of what you are about to learn. You won't understand the subject entirely unless you apply it. Take Starcraft for example. I can tell you every single strategy available, but you will still lose the next few games because you do not know how to apply it in your gameplay.

The same thing goes if you jump head first into doing something without studying it. Let's say you want to make a chair. Without studying the dimensions, the type of material, the costs of materials and the skills necessary to make one, you wouldn't get very far.

Studying is part of the learning process. To cease it would be the same as not learning at all.
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24 / F / Well, Who knows?...
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Posted 3/3/08

Study prepares you for what you are about to experience, because you have an idea of it. Like what haotehmao stated, it's only giving you and idea of what it is, but you have to try it out to learn.

Sure, some may even learn without reading a book. But gaining those experiences itself is studying, for that person is learning from his own mistakes of how it happened. You can shut a person in the darkness till he matured, and if you find that he isn't afraid of it, all it means is that he already learn not to fear it...Thus, it is studying how not to fear it.
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22 / F / Philippines
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Posted 3/4/08
we can't learn something if we can't experience it first
just like basketball
you can't win the game if you only studied about it
you need to experience it first
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23 / F / Earth
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Posted 3/4/08
studying is not the only way to learn but also by experiencing them.. and such
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