Destroying the Perfect Notebook

I think I learned to take notes incorrectly as a kid. Don’t get me wrong– I was the kid in class who would take perfect notes, exactly as the teacher had it on the board. But that’s not really the most helpful way to take notes. It probably didn’t help back then that we had notebook checks and were graded on the content… So I never deviated from what we were ‘supposed’ to write down.

As an adult non-tradional student, I’ve learned something important, which should probably have been obvious to me as a kid. (For whatever reason, it wasn’t.) It doesn’t matter if your notes are perfect, what matters is that they help you. (Especially if the subject is one you don’t understand.) I don’t care what my instructors think of my notes, as long as I understand what I’m writing down.
I don’t speak ‘math,’ and I really don’t speak ‘chemistry,’ so if I can put something my instructor says into my own words, I’ll understand it a whole lot better. (Duh, self.) 🙂 This process is also known as cookbooking, which is a learning technique I found out about through this inconcise YouTube video.

So maybe this post will help a kid out there who is much like my younger self. It’s okay to be a dreamer and get lost in your own head… But find a way to understand what you’re supposed to be learning in a way that works for you.

Do you know what kind of learner you are? Did you know there are different types of learning? If you are unfamiliar with the concept, here’s what it means.

Visual learner: You learn best by seeing it, reading notes or watching a video.

Kinetic learner: You are more of a hands-on person. You prefer to write things down and try things for yourself.

Auditory learner: You’ll remember nearly everything you hear.

There are a lot of theories about other learning styles, and you can learn more about them here.

I think it’s important to know how you learn best. I’m personally a visual and kinetic learner. I want to see how something is done, and then I’ll be itching to try it for myself. I like to take notes so I can refer back to them when I need to.

Here’s a real-life example of why it’s helpful to know that people have different learning styles. I once had a terrible supervisor who was an auditory learner. (Apparently she had never heard of the learning-styles concept.) She would train me on something, and I would take notes so she wouldn’t have to keep telling me how to do whatever-it-was. Taking notes was okay, but referring to them later apparently wasn’t. She wanted me to be told how to do the task, and know it without the notes. No doubt I would have learned the task over time if I would have been allowed to refer to them, but I’m just not an auditory learner. It’ll go in one ear and out the other, as the saying goes. The end result was that she was frustrated at having to explain to me how the task was done, every time, and I was frustrated because I had the whole process written down in my tiny, pocket-sized notebook, which I was not allowed to look at. This made me look far less intelligent than I really am, when in reality it was the result of her stupid insistence that I learn in a way that didn’t benefit me. Let’s just say that I found another job not long after, and there was no such idiotic rigamarole.

Point being: you may end up being someone’s supervisor someday. Try to distinguish a truly poor employee from someone who is working hard and trying to do a good job, even if their performance isn’t quite what you’d like it to be. You can work with the latter type sometimes, and see if there’s any improvement. But please… don’t discount someone just because they learn differently from you!


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