Learning Medicine

Learning Medicine
The Ultimate Guide to Study Skills in Medical School

Thursday, February 10, 2011

School gets in the way of my learning

Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
- Mark Twain

Everyone learns differently. Some people really benefit from being fed knowledge by professors through lecture in the setting of the classroom. I get that. And that's great. But for the rest of us, give us a good book, some practice problems, and a cup of coffee or two and that's all we need to absorb lots and lots of knowledge. When you read, you can move at your own pace. You can explore certain topics more than others. You can bring in outside information and do what YOU need to learn the material. I love nothing more than hunkering down with a well-written textbook and just absorbing.

In college, I was an avid lecture goer. I think I did that more because I felt guilty not going. And, during my college days (haha 2 years ago), lectures weren't available by streaming video and so if the professor said something important in class, you missed it. I did benefit from class-going, but mostly for the social aspect. The professors really didn't illuminate the subjects anymore than the textbooks did. Sometimes they confused more than than they illuminated. But I didn't mind lecture back then.

Medical school has made me completely averse to the traditional lecture format. Time is such a limited resource and lectures are such an ineffective way to learn. By virtue of the time constraints (50 minutes), you can't get the full story. Important points are omitted, backstory is abridged, and you get a very fragmented presentation of the information. Textbooks, on the other hand, are written like stories. Backstory is fleshed out. The flow of information has been methodically planned. Connections between different parts of the text can be made easily. Things of importance can be highlighted and usually there are useful diagrams and figures to make the points clear. Maybe it's just me, but I find that kind of presentation much more conducive to learning. I can also decide what's worth spending time on and what's not. I'm not at the mercy of a lecturer whose priorities might be different from my own.

More and more I feel what Mark Twain articulated so aptly over a century ago: School is getting in the way of my learning.

With this new block, there are sundry mandatory sessions and events. It's only the first week, so I don't want to dismiss all of them right off the bat. That would be hasty. But so far, I've had two sessions of this 'Pathology Small Group' and it's very inefficient. The discussion is fragmented and without much direction. The fact that I'm writing this blog during the class shows you how little my attention is focused on what's going on. Now, that might just be my problem, but I don't think I'm the only one who tends to zone out when discussions jump all over the place.

I guess what irks me is that I could be studying on my own right now. Instead, I had to disrupt that studying by coming to school. Being a medical student, it's not unreasonable to be asked to come to school : ) I get it. But when what I'm coming to school for is so ineffective, and with time so precious, that is more than a little annoyance. It's a hindrance.

I hope things get a little better. In the meantime, I'm very content to keep doing my own thing. I'll try harder to not let school interfere with my education.

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