Friday, April 23, 2010

Delayed Knowledge

Reading this article about naps and dreams being able to boost learning would be ever so helpful in my teens when day dreaming came very easy as did napping for hours on summer afternoons where the only respite from the heat was somnolence. That was also when I had mastered the fine art of zoning out during the most boring classes with my eyes wide open while sitting at the desk closest to the teacher. It was more typical for the malcontents, troublemakers and such to cluster as far away from her as possible.
This I realized was poor strategy. If you wanted to sleep right through a class, you had locate yourself in the general vicinity of the most irreproachable kids. The enterprising neighbor who sat at the desk next to mine, put her time to good use by snacking out of the lunch boxes of the kids who actually paid attention to the teacher and took copious notes that the rest of us would soon borrow. Like me she no use for what was been taught and had been astute about choosing her desk. It paid rich dividends. At the end of forty minutes I would have no idea what had been taught or what if anything I was expected to have learned. My thoughts might have been one of many interesting places all highly unrelated to education and self-improvement.
I did suffer from occasional pangs of guilt for not having learned anything at school and having no desire to remedy the situation at home. Had I know then what I know now, I may have felt better about falling asleep on my text book the night before the test knowing fully well that I had squandered my last opportunity to familiarize myself with the material.
To remember something in particular -- say, the lines of a play or formulas for an exam -- it might help to study right before dozing, whether that means studying late at night or napping directly after a cram session, Stickgold said.
And if you can get yourself to dream about the material, you are at a particular advantage. Unfortunately, "dream content is notoriously hard to control," Stickgold said. The non-conscious brain "has its own rules," and focuses on whatever it deems most important, he added.

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