Forgetting What I Learnt


The words and phrases are floating over me, trying to break free from a fog refusing to dissipate. There is a certain familiarity about the text, I should known what it’s all about. I knew it at a point… But I keep reading, pushing those feelings of disappointment and panic somewhere deep and far away in my mind.

That’s what happens when you promise to help… You’ve studied something like this at university, right? I had to say yes, I couldn’t have asked why he wanted to know before saying anything… Serves me right – live it, learnt it!

Hey, wait a moment, this isn’t the same categorization we were taught, what the hell are they talking about? Rather than going straight to the point, they just confuse everything… how’s a person who doesn’t know about it supposed to understand anything… oh wait, a few pages later they finally do it right… good thing I know what the story is, that saves a lot of time.

But that’s exactly it, I do know, I do remember! A sigh of relief… my memory is still what it used to be, it’s not failing me yet, the years haven’t changed me that much from that particular point of view. Yes, I can actually help with this, I won’t make a fool of myself, nor will I be a nuisance.

I may be able to jolt my memory, I may be able to piece together information that I’ve assimilated, but I would definitely be a lot more challenged if I had to learn it now than I used to be back then. Well, this is exactly what my friend is going through these days and I can’t say I envy him. We’re the same age and while we both got admitted to different universities after high school, life got in his way a lot worse than it did in mine, and he is only now working towards getting his degree.

We learn differently, he and I… and many of the things we had to learn, we learnt together, both when it came to academia and when it came to life and its struggles. I helped him understand algebra in middle school and I frightened him into learning the conjugation of French verbs in high school. I found it terribly annoying that many of my class mates took so long to understand what to me appeared simple things; but he could keep up with me, so making him see how easy everything was became fun.

So once again we go back to that routine, the one where we discuss the course material, because that way he remembers it a lot better. That’s how he learns. I, on the other hand, have always studied best on my own; group studying was a waste of time and it held me back. I had no problem studying efficiently while sunbathing on the beach, as long as I was left alone…

Here we are, once again… we spend a day and the better part of the night figuring out the course material I had studied too, although I attended a different university and took different courses. Sure, they labelled it differently for me, but it’s really the same dry, boring, theoretical stuff that I only managed to understand because I had a gifted professor who could create a context and challenging examples to get our attention… and apparently to help me remember something I hardly ever need to use. This might in fact be the first time I do…

That’s why I was worried when I thought I had forgotten everything… Not because I needed to remember it – I am aware of having forgotten a lot of useless things I studied and learnt mechanically – but because this had made sense at the time. I may have hated the theoretical side, but the applied part was great fun. And I always remember that which I have understood, that which has made sense, that which I could have even exemplify in an interesting way.

No, I am not good at forgetting. I have yet to learn how to do that. Just like this highlights of an irrelevant course, everything that I’ve learnt and experienced comes back to me one way or another, no matter how hard I try to not remember certain things. It’s exactly those instances I try to forget that have the bad habit of coming back to me exactly when I least expect it or want it. Good memory is an amazing asset… and it can be a tremendous liability as well. But once you’re used to having access to such a tool, no matter how challenging it might be to handle it, the mere thought of losing it is the kind of fear you still need to learn how to control.

In response to WordPress Weekly Discover Challenge – Learning.

12 Replies to “Forgetting What I Learnt”

  1. Hey Ana – enjoyed this so much — and the title grabbed me first and foremost – before I even read – the quote from CS Lewis came to mind – where he said “we need to remind ourselves of things as much as learn new stuff” – but actually I once saw/rad somewhere that someone was noted as saying that from antiquity – ha! Nothing new under the sun – and so I find that for me – part of remembering course work involves review and more review – like you said how the stuff came back to you…
    And glad you had s good professor in the course of mentioned – it sure makes all the difference – and is maybe rare these days- ya know?

    Oh and also enjoyed the note about theory vs practical app – and then about this friend you are working with. I sometimes wish I could remember more stuff – but often a quick review can pull it back up in a snap—
    However – sometimes it feels like the material I forced in for a grade was never really encoded – and so is that not really forgetting if we never really store it??? Ha!
    and you have me thinking about how the context can integrate that stuff we might not really need or use – hmmmm

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of recycling knowledge 🙂 Come on, tell the truth, you have some little project in mind, don’t you, Yvette?
      On a different note, I agree with you, there are things we were supposed to “learn” and I no longer remember. But I never expected to remember them any further than the day of the exam, since I’m not good at assimilating information I don’t understand, don’t find interesting or simply find nonsensical – learning like a parrot doesn’t work for me 🙂 . But as you said, you can’t forget something you never really knew. And the person teaching it makes a great difference, a bad teacher can easily kill any desire a young person might have to learn. There are so many variable when teaching and learning, it’s not an easy job juggling all of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree about the juggling and variables – and then add in the different learning styles students have-
        And then how about the different phases we go through – like have you had some seasons of overload to where you can’t absorb – or seasons of being “on” and sponge like?

        Oh / and no projects on my mind right now – but I do have a few things on a blog to do list – and one of them is to properly review your book this summer! I also need to share about an Amy Maranto teacup photo – staci’s music – and then have a photo favorite post – but other wise those 4 things – nada alotta! Ha!
        What about u? Any Projects in the works?

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        1. I know what you mean – there are times when I can hardly focus on reading a book for fun, much less on actually learning something new. What can I say, life gets in the way more and more often, that’s why I was saying I don’t envy my friend for working on getting his degree in his thirties 🙂 . I do support and respect him for it though.
          As for my summer plans… hmmm… nothing big in the works for my blog… But I might have something new for your reviewing pleasure ;- ) It’s a collection of short stories this time, I tried something different than the first book. This is the first time I’m mentioning it on the blog, because I’m down to the final touches and to designing the cover. The old book needs some light reediting too, all those small mistakes I keep discovering are getting on my nerves. That’s about it for my hobby section. Hopefully I’ll manage to put together a trip or two, let’s see how everything goes. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well let me know when you update the PL draft – also – I am now officially looking forward to the short stories – there is one scene of yours (from a post) that I remembered this week – it was that guy who looked at the girl on the train – all night – and their exchange of the eyes – hmmmm
            Do you remember the post!
            And not sure if you know – but I went back to school in my 30s too – and whew – it actually was awesome because I like the learning at all – but the demands of getting “graded” starts to really wear one down – gets old-
            Anyhow – that is awesome about the short stories – and I actually have an outline for a writing on “perspective” – it is more of a pamphlet and it is for a workshop I am doing later this summer – Hmmm – and so far so good- ….

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’ll let you know when I upload the updated version 😉 . And I remember the post you’re referring to, I’m also pretty fond of that image.
              Unfortunately there’s a bit of a stigma here regarding attending university later in life instead of immediately after having graduated from high school. It’s starting to become more and more acceptable these days, but it’s still one more thing you have to deal with.
              That workshop sounds interesting, perspective is really fun to discuss and interpret. I’m curious to hear more about how it goes, maybe there’s a post in it 😉 .

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I will keep you posted on the perspective project…
                and interesting to hear about the stigma….
                and I think there is likely some here as well – especially in some circles – and oh yes – there is also stigma with “which” schools are attended and all that – ahhhh – these social games people play…..

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