But college is not only about learning stuff; it is also about learning how to learn and how to process and critically evaluate information. It is broadly true that, if they had been taught study skills at school, my students wouldn't be at The Institute - they'd be at University in Dublin or Cork and planning to take Harvard by storm later. That was my route because I had a very expensive education: I went to TCD and then. missing Harvard by about 5km, did a PhD at Boston University. The exams I sat on this bumbling journey to an academic job required a certain amount of cramming and rote-learning in The Art of Memory and mnemonics helped to remember
- the cranial nerves I - X of a dog-fish
- old Oppenheim occasionally pinches three aspidistras from audrey's glass vase
- and the
- geological periods between Cambrian and Quaternary [prev]
- camels ordinarily sit down carefully perhaps their joints creak too quickly
I sat my last exam in 1981, put down my pen and vowed never to do that again. I've been true to that resolution since. But in the pre-1981 days, I found that writing things down helped bang them into the head and re-writing the key-words of the notes into a long, multi-column list was also helpful. I could remember where many of the words were on the pages and scan up the mind's eye up and down to fill in the gaps.