Learning by Output: How to Remember More and Learn More Effectively

Learning is a process of incessant input and output. Is there any approach to enhance learning efficacy, assimilating information once and retaining it, and subsequently expressing it effectively?

The University of London conducted a thought-provoking study. In the experiment on memory, one cohort of volunteers was instructed as follows: “Please commit these contents to memory, for you shall be tested.” Conversely, the other cohort of volunteers was informed: “Please commit these contents to memory, for you shall educate others.” As a result, the group assigned to “educate others” achieved higher scores, despite not actually engaging in any teaching.

“Testing” and “educating others” both pertain to output, but “educating others” evidently entails a more demanding psychological endeavor. When output is accompanied by heightened psychological pressure, even if no actual teaching takes place, the brain is stimulated, memory is enhanced, and learning outcomes are bolstered.

For instance, envision your company arranging an overseas business trip for you. You would unquestionably think, “Splendid! It is a rare opportunity to venture abroad, surely promising an enjoyable experience!” However, if your boss were to instruct you: “Upon your return, kindly share your inspection report and recount your experiences with the employees for approximately an hour.” In such a scenario, regrettably, you would likely be deprived of the opportunity to explore and savor your surroundings, would you not?

You would capture photographs for the report, meticulously interview relevant individuals, take notes, and gather information. Precisely because you have a report presentation as a prerequisite, you would consciously retain those intricate details.

Why is “output-based” learning easier to remember? This arises from the fact that when an individual encounters psychological stress, a substance known as “norepinephrine” is secreted within the brain, thereby enhancing concentration, memory, thinking, and judgment.

Once, I inquired about an art exhibition from someone who had attended it. I asked, “How was the art exhibition?” and the individual responded, “It was exceptional!” I probed further, asking, “What specifically made it outstanding?” The individual replied, “Every aspect was remarkably splendid, and it deeply moved me!” Two hours of art appreciation condensed into a mere 3 seconds of output.

Nevertheless, when output becomes a prerequisite, the effect can be instantaneously magnified by a factor of 100.

Within the training conference I host, “Kazawa Juku,” interactive sessions are regularly held. On one occasion, Kazawa Juku organized a student visit to the “Munch Exhibition – The Scream of the Resonating Soul” (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art). During the subsequent sharing session, attended by 11 members, each participant took turns expressing their sentiments. Each person articulated their thoughts for a duration of 3 to 5 minutes, thus consuming nearly 40 minutes for a few heartfelt expressions.

Why were the students of Kazawa School able to articulate their thoughts for 5 minutes? This is because they were previously informed that they would convey their impressions during the sharing session. Consequently, while observing the artwork, they experienced a subtle pressure, thinking, “I must uncover unique perspectives to express during the forthcoming sharing session.”

Instead of gazing aimlessly, they intently observed the pieces with the conscious purpose of discovering new insights, thereby accumulating a vast volume of information and fresh revelations.

Five minutes amounts to 300 seconds, which is 100 times greater than 3 seconds. In other words, compared to “gazing aimlessly” or “superficially observing,” adopting a conscious output-based approach can amplify the input magnitude by a factor of 100.

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