After reading the article, “5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students” by Deborah Farmer Kris, I agree with everything that was stated in that text. I agree with the fact that everyone learns at a different speed as well as making connections and metaphors to enhance learning and to make connections easier. Many people in my class discussed the Pomodoro effect and how they believe it doesn’t work. However, through personal experience, I do believe that the study habits mentioned are very helpful.
Barbara Oakley, former math hater turned engineering professor in the process of writing a book for ages ten to fourteen on the topic of “learning how to learn”. In her article crediting Oakley, Deborah Farmer Kris breaks down the main ideas of Oakley’s writing. Kris breaks it down into five sections titled “Hiker brain vs. Race Car brain”, “Chains and Chunks”, “The Power of Metaphor”, “The Problem of Procrastination” and “Expand Possibilities”. All these concepts connect with the topic of “learning how to learn”. I agreed with all the points that Kris made crediting Oakley, especially the Pomodoro effect and how that can make someone a better studier. Personally, I use the Pomodoro technique and I find it very helpful. Everyone uses a different study technique, so the Pomodoro technique may not work for everyone. However, from personal experience I have found that it works wonders. When I study, I find it hard to concentrate on one subject for a long time especially when it’s something as boring as reading notes repeatedly. The words start to look the same and my mind wanders to things that aren’t about the topic I’m reading about. Having technology is a blessing and a curse when it comes to studying and getting work done. On one hand, it’s very easy to gain access to resources otherwise not provided at such ease. However, with this technology so easily accessible there are also many opportunities to slack off and get distracted. My biggest problem is my cell phone, without the Pomodoro effect, I make the mistake of leaving it next to me when I do work and am tempted to check it every two minutes. Even when I have it on the do not disturb mode, I’m still constantly checking it. I always feel like I’m missing out on something when I’m not constantly on my phone. I assume that every individual has different ways of conducting the Pomodoro technique personally I put my phone on silent, put it on the other side of the room, set a timer on my computer and get to work. When I find myself eager to check in on the world outside I look at the timer and realize that I only have those remaining minutes left. Another problem that comes to be is the fact that when the timer does go off and I get to check my phone again, the struggle becomes limiting myself to those five or ten minutes and not to get carried away with having that freedom. I also see it as a reward for the hard work that I’ve done and to use my phone for longer than those five to ten minutes would be taking advantage of my reward. I use the technique to get through every school related activity that I have had problems with focusing on so far. I find that the most helpful task is with writing. Writing can be a long and painful task that does not come easy to many people. Writing is not something that you can do in one lump sum rather, it’s something that you must do in increments.
This Pomodoro technique further explains Barbara Oakley’s thinking on the two different types of brains. The hiker brain versus the race car brain is something that is very prominent in the education system that many children and young adults have been through. So often as students we think that the faster we complete something the smarter we are and the more we learn. This is what Oakley calls the “race car brain”. The students with the race car brain complete assignments and learn at a very fast pace to “finish first”. However, with this type of brain and way of completing work, often, because you are going to fast, you miss out on important details. Like a race car racing around a track. Because they go so fast, they often miss important details. The other type of brain Oakley alludes to is known as the hiker brain. Unlike the racecar brain, the hiker brain takes more time in their learning process as well as learns material in a more elaborate way. When a hiker takes a hike, they can last a very long time. This is because they take their time and really get to learn everything (the birds and the trees) as well as appreciate the things that they’re walking past. Speed doesn’t always equal smarts and with each method, the learner achieves their goal.
I bring this subject up because so often students think that if they learn something fast then that means their smart. I think that I have more of a hiker brain but try to learn as if I have a race car brain. I used to think that if I learned fast and completed things at a fast pace then I was smart. However, I had not retained the knowledge that I thought I had. If you ask me what I had learned in physics my senior year of high school, I could not tell you. However, a subject such as World History I retained a lot of the material we learned, and I could talk about that all day. But that was because I spent a lot of time with that subject and really absorbed all the material. Additionally, I took that course my sophomore year of high school.
Sometimes it can be frustrating because no one wants to spend a lot of time on school work, however material that is important to learn to people are worth taking extra time on it. Taking time to learn things, with small breaks and really making thing more efficient is a very helpful tool for me. For this same reason, I think that the Pomodoro method works for a hiker brain like mine.