Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Like a movie

                    One of my professors was once pretty annoyed. The reason being, we couldn’t recall a dozen facts taught to us in the previous class. And to prove to us our incompatibility the professor chose the age old analogy – “ when you can remember a movie sequence after a single viewing why cant you remember academics?”. The answer is quite simple. Our brains are saturated or should I blatantly go ahead and say – bored.

                    It’s a scientific fact that the brain can take in things and understand continuously for upto about 30 minutes. After that irrespective of how good or bad the class is it all goes over the head.

                   A movie stays in better memory for a while because it simple has everything that the brains loves to remember – moving objects, colour and sound. Plus you don’t have to mug the details of the movie to be able to write an essay answer for 15marks later. Try doing that. Watch a movie, better still, one that you know you would like and try writing down every single scene you watched. You’d at the most get a dozen sequences right. And those would be the ones that made a great impact upon you. Probably some PJ, a good shot, a stylish roof top fight, a catchy tune or a signature dance move or dialogue! Think about the movie after two days and you would’ve forgotten most of it!

                   I wrote movie reviews for a friend’s website and I had to take notes for doing it lest I forgot what I saw(absence of a photographic memory is one of the reasons people like to keep copies of movies to watch over again :) )

                  Monotony is what would best explain why students find it real hard to focus and remember what’s being taught. Add to it the pressure of having to perform in exams. The brain hates being told what to do. If you want to make it work you have to get it interested. The same works good for a movie too. Try watching a dozen movies of the same genre back to back. You’d want to run after a couple. Your mind automatically shuts down.

                  Feeding your brain is like feeding your tummy. You feed your stomach with  too much carbs it takes up rapidly at first, then slows down and faithfully makes you a slob and you go hunting for XL sized clothes! You feed your brain with text, formulae and concepts all day, by the time the bell goes the 1.5kg weight in your head is snoring. The trick to stay slim is to eat but eat small quantities of food number of times a day. And that works with the brain too. Try jamming half hour sessions of stuff you have to learn. Put it together in colorful notes, post- its, pneumonics and anything else that’s fun you can get your sleepyhead up and about! Alas! With an alarming volume of textbooks, references, papers, assignments, projects, records and other blah-blah to complete and a hundred exams to take whoever would listen to you when you say ‘make learning fun’!

                 Another obvious difference between watching a movie and attending class is you don’t go to the movies everyday but you have to maintain minimum attendance. Sighhh….
Kindergarten classrooms are all colorful. Why do you think they are? Kids are taught with rhymes, songs, cards, blocks, show & tell etc., Somewhere down the lane there’s too much to learn and too little time before you have to start preparing for entrance exams and the same lovely kids are taught and expected to mug. Doing that all your life and being evaluated for it does make it hard when you are asked to remember the basics now during a PG. All I remember is the alphabet that I learned from a colorful book with huge font!

                Am not quite sure whom to blame. The system? The students?  Their parents?  The society?  The pressure to be the best? What’s the point anyway when even after graduation most of us don’t know what we should be doing?!

               If classrooms are fun learning would automatically be fun. I still remember pictures from lectures done in PowerPoint. I remember what a couple of jovial professors taught me way back, I remember stuff that I learnt out of interest…the brain remembers what it likes rather , what you can make it like.

               The conclusion remains that it’s definitely not even a long shot at comparison between a movie and listening to a lecture. Same brain, same logic, prevalent facts. You just got to make things more endearing. If I were to become a teacher someday I would just like to get a class full of brains hyper interested…like a good movie would! 

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