17 Jun 2017 16:21 IST

Time to change your learning style

You must have a combination of comprehension and memory-based learning to get competitive advantage

Enough has been written about the shortcomings of our Indian education system, and there is nothing much anyone can add to it. In spite of all this, the system continues to be in practice and I do not foresee a significant shift any time soon. One of the underlying reasons why this might continue is because of the basic rationale behind this approach.

The current education system essentially aims to teach compliance, adherence to directions, and discipline. Essentially, the products of this system are expected to remember and follow the instructions with minimal individualistic thoughts. This was initially put in place to meet the demand arising out of the industrial revolution, to generate adequate number of workers in manufacturing and clerical roles.

Important aspects

If you look at education in this context, you will understand why it follows a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and the disproportionate importance it gives to memory or rote learning. However, the times have changed and the pace of change is increasing every day. The shift is leaning more towards knowledge workers. In other words, people who can apply their mind.

This requires that a person develop two important aspects — comprehension and critical thinking.

Comprehension is the ability to understand and internalise details with regard to a situation or topic. Critical thinking is the capability to evaluate these details objectively to take suitable decisions.

Unfortunately, the reality of education, even in many management institutes, is quite different. The learning style of students is based on memory and not comprehension. This is a fact I witness in many of my interactions, where students want to know the key points, important chapters to revise and so on. The focus is far removed from comprehension and individual thinking, and that it is frightening.

What is required

Managerial roles are based on understanding of the situation, evaluation of the same and taking suitable decisions. This will be possible only if the person has learnt comprehension skills and has the ability to think critically. The fact of the matter is that such skills and capabilities cannot be acquired overnight. They need to be developed through repetitive practice, and this practice needs to start at the educational institute itself.

It is in this context that every management student needs to change their learning style. You need to start focusing on understanding the concepts and grasp the subjects in depth, instead of only memorising the key points for an exam.

The reality is also the fact that examinations and the current education system is what it is. As such, a smart management student would learn to juggle their learning styles. They need to develop comprehension and critical thinking capabilities for their career while also leveraging their memory-based learning for examinations. This is the key challenge and anyone who is able to balance this dichotomy will definitely have a competitive advantage in life.

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