This year, I’ve tried a new strategy to learn all the material in lecture. Other than sitting in the front-row in my classes (which is an incredibly helpful tool), I’ve engaged in a somewhat unfamiliar way (at least to myself): I radically raise my hand.
No matter the question or circumstance, my hand is in the air. Ok, well that’s a little bit of an overexaggeration, but the point is that I don’t really care too much if I get the answer wrong. In fact, if I do, that’s great — I just identified a key point of learning that I need to do with instantaneous feedback that I wouldn’t get by sitting quiet.
I used to believe that whether or not I raised my hand that I would still get that instant feedback. Even if I wasn’t volunteering the answer, I would still be able to check my answer against what the professor said. But there’s two problems here: 1. this isn’t true and 2. even if I were to generate a solid answer, it wouldn’t be near the thinking that goes into a hand-raise answer.
The truth is that even when I think I have an idea for an answer, it’s not fully fleshed out. Sure, I have a vague notion of what’s true, but, without actually forcing myself to present that answer, it remains incredibly blurry. With the hand-raise comes the responsibility of consolidating and sharing your idea.
It’s similar to why I choose to write. I’m actively testing my assumptions and constructing a clearer understanding by sharing my thoughts with the world.
My answers aren’t always right, but that’s great. Because within a few seconds, I’ll be told where the error in my thinking was and how I can approach similar problems in the future. Raising my hand forces me to test my assumptions.
I’m in lecture for 80 minutes anyway. Why waste it? If I choose not to focus, it will simply come back to bite me in the future. I’ll have to learn the material eventually. So, I raise my hand. It’s in that process that I learn the most, and I’m dead-set on learning the most I can from my time in college.