Why Study Skills?

To Improve Marks at School

One of the first learning challenges children are faced with are the days of the week, the months of the year and also the alphabet. Typically rote learning is used to learn these as there is nothing to understand. Rote learning is therefore children’s first experience to deal with learning challenges.

The utilisation of rote learning as the predominant and sometimes the only learning strategy, has huge risks. Let us use the alphabet to explain just one of these risks.

When learning the alphabet, letters are linked only to the next letter and only in one direction. Schematically it can be presented as below.

As long as every link in the chain is remembered, all is well.  A serious problem, however, develops if one link is forgotten.  As letters are connected in one direction only and only to the one following, all the letters to follow are consequently forgotten.

Schematically this is presented below.  In this example the letter “D” is forgotten and therefore the rest.

Make no mistake, the above happens and especially under stressful situations.

With smaller children for example it happens when they are stressed, because they have to recite a verse before an audience.  Typically they progress fluently to a point and then they get stuck.  If somebody, a teacher for instance, then comes to their rescue by helping them with the next word, they continue happily with the rest.

Older children that predominantly use rote learning will, when the above happens under the stress of an examination, typically say they struck a blankor “I know exactly where in the textbook this is written.  If only I could remember the word”.

Memorised content is quickly forgotten. It can happen that only 45% of the learned content can be remembered after one day and only 20% after three days. This is terrible. Learn 100 facts on day one and on day three you remember only 20.

Scientists differ on the exact percentages, but the fact is that memorised content is very quickly forgotten.

Investing a few hours at an early age to learn proper study skills is undoubtedly the best investment a child can make.  Parents furthermore have the dire responsibility to assist and coach their children to fine-tune and master these skills that will always stand them in good stead.

Be Better Prepared for the Challenges of the Future

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.  Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.  What happened to Kodak will happen to many industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming.

Technology will pervade every work environment in the next 5 -10 years.  Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Should you Google “top jobs” you will find titles such as 10 Jobs that did not exist 10 years ago and “5 High-​Paying Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago”. It is also reported that many jobs as we know it today are at risk from automation. This especially applies to low-​skilled jobs and will increasingly spread to middle class jobs. Should you, however, consult the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook, growth rates of 30% or more over the next 10 years for familiar job titles as diverse as brick mason and dental hygienist are projected. Undoubtedly therefore, some jobs are here to stay, many jobs will disappear and new jobs will be created.

To cope with the expected changes in the labour market, employees will have to:

  • Take greater personal responsibility for acquiring and continuously updating skills for progression and success.
  • Be open to and take advantage of new and different approaches to learning, for instance self-directed, bite-sized learning, peer-to-peer learning and technology enabled training opportunities.
  • Be willing to jump across specialist knowledge boundaries as technologies and disciplines converge, developing a blend of technical training and ‘softer’ collaborative skills.
  • Focus on development of key skills and attributes that will be at a premium in future, including resilience, adaptability, resourcefulness, entrepreneurial skills, cognitive skills (such as problem solving), and the core business skills for project management.

Arguably the above list is incomplete and futurologists very often get it wrong.  What is, however, distinctly clear from the above and extensive information provided on the Web, is that skills of the mind will be indispensable to effectively and creatively cope with an ever-changing future working environment.  The conclusion is therefore unambiguous, clear and specific:  develop and nurture the skills of the mind from an early age.