Take a Note, or Two, or Several Pages

He listens well who takes notes–Dante Alighieri

Todd Henry, in the book The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, makes an excellent point:

The goal of study is not simply to absorb a lot of new information. You want to process and assimilate it, then apply it to your life and work. If you don’t cultivate insights from what you take in, then the value of stimuli in your life decreases dramatically. Taking good notes . . . prevents [ideas] from disappearing into the ether.

Oh dear, I can hear you now: Take notes? How old-fashioned can the Jolly Librarian be? All lectures are on PowerPoint now. All we have to do is download and print them, and then we’re set. Join the 21st century, Jolly Librarian!

But, my friends, the need to take notes is important no matter how the information is presented. If for no other reason, taking notes makes you stay alert as you listen in class or read a chapter. You are also forced to determine what’s most important in the material. And by putting the ideas in your own words, you have a better chance of  truly learning and remembering them. A good note taker doesn’t simply write down what being presented. It’s also important to jot down places where you don’t understand, where you want to ask a question, even where you disagree.

Just like reading textbook chapters, there are many methods for taking notes. But here’s a good overview of note-taking with links to specific types.

But the main thing is to just jump in and start practicing your note-taking skills with the next lecture you attend or the next reading assignment you have.

 It won’t be long before you notice a difference (and by that I mean better retention and probably better grades).


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