Is It Bad That I Am Learning a lot of different subjects or topics

I’ve given this question a lot of thought, but I don’t think there is a definitive solution. I’ll attempt to outline the main arguments in favor of learning things sequentially and in parallel in this post, and I’ll also offer some alternative approaches to managing the two.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the conventional academic disciplines still in use in 2024—such as geography, music, and chemistry—are only made-up boxes meant to contain our expanding understanding of the world and ourselves. Humans have always attempted to compartmentalize our information in an effort to make sense of the world around us. We now have different courses like history, math, and business since these compartments have expanded and altered over time.

Ideas Behing Parallel Learning Different Subjects/Topics

Even if concentrating helps you finish work, cognitive psychology offers several strong arguments for at least considering running learning objectives concurrently.

The spacing impact comes first. There is a lot of data to support the claim that learning occurs best when it occurs over an extended period of time. Longer, stronger memories will result from learning something spaced out over several days as opposed to learning it all in one go.

The causes of this are still not fully known. The process of memory consolidation could be one of the causes. The extra repetitions are unnecessary since jam-packing too many iterations of a subject into one study session might only lead to one act of consolidation. Another explanation could be because learning occurs best when you’re changing frames of reference or contexts; having to “boot” the knowledge into your memory strengthens it more than thinking about it when you’ve only recently thought about it.

The MIT Challenge and other ambitious undertakings are undoubtedly hampered by the spacing effect. Even though I eventually worked to address these issues by holding several sessions concurrently, I don’t think I was as effective as I may have been if I had had more time to learn.

Interleaving is another effect that is a little less strong. This is the point at which you transition between subjects in order to learn more. Instead of studying biology, chemistry, physics, and philosophy separately, you would learn all of these subjects in one day.

The same spacing concept, which states that changing frames enhances learning, may apply to interleaving, or it may operate on a totally different basis. Interleaving makes a strong case for parallel learning objectives directly, whereas spacing only makes an indirect one.

The straightforward argument in favor of parallel learning objectives is that switching between learning tasks and spreading out your study time may help you learn more effectively.

How Should You Proceed? Analyzing Educational Frameworks

What I refer to as a comprehensive approach to learning is a learning structure. Establishing a project is one of these frameworks that I have previously discussed. A project structure calls for planning, dedication, and typically very few or no rival initiatives.

There are other effective learning structures, too, so it’s not the sole one. Making studying a habit—something you do consistently every week—is how a habitual structure operates. A regular structure allows you to handle many more learning objectives at once.

A third type of structure might be casual, in which knowledge is acquired based on personal interest. This is the most basic structure and the one that most people use by default, although it can occasionally be useful if you want to reduce the stress of learning and have high levels of interest and low levels of dissatisfaction.

So how do you choose between learning through projects, routines, or informal means? I make use of all three while I’m trying to learn. To me, the only questions are which best fits your objectives and how to counterbalance its drawbacks.

Project Organization: Advantages and Disadvantages

The project structure’s ability to optimize focus is one of its strengths. This implies that working on learning tasks that are really challenging, annoying, or demanding is much easier. Additionally, progressing in a timely manner is simpler. While informal structures and habits are good for the long term, projects move more rapidly, which is useful if you need the skill ready for a deadline (like an exam or job interview).

One of the weaknesses of projects is that you can’t work on too many of them at once—possibly only one. This means that you can’t get as much from spacing or interleaving as you might with another structure, and you have to be careful about what you wish to learn—which isn’t always a bad thing.

There are a few strategies I’ve discovered to lessen these flaws while maintaining the project structure:

Make use of quick tasks. You can accomplish more on several objectives over an extended period of time if you alternate between lesser initiatives. Despite using a project structure, The Year Without English allowed us to accomplish a wide range of goals, including learning four languages in a single year.

Make use of interleaving and within-project spacing. This entails alternating between studying different subtopics and conducting spaced reviews of the material you have already studied for the project. This helped counteract some of the impacts of cramming, and I employed it to some extent throughout the MIT Challenge.

After a project, develop routines. You can make significant progress toward a learning objective quickly with a project. But to keep what you’ve learned when you’re done, you might want to move to a habit structure. In this manner, the benefits of spacing out will help you retain the information.

In Summary

Regretfully, I am unable to provide a simple conclusion stating that learning should always be done in parallel or with focus. Rather, I believe that these are both legitimate tactics that are effective for various purposes and in various situations.

Consider the lessons you are now attempting to master. Are you attempting to learn something significant that demands concentration due to its difficulty? Take on a project. Or do you attempt to learn a variety of things out of interest but frequently neglect to put them into practice? Strive to make them routines. Certain things will unavoidably only be learned in passing, and maybe that’s how they should stay!

By Zuni Alt

Zuni Alt is an esteemed author and blogger known for her insightful coverage on education and student life. With a keen focus on providing valuable tips and tricks to students, Zuni's work encompasses a wide array of topics, ranging from effective study techniques to practical advice on saving money while pursuing education. Through her platform, Cafe Cloudy, Zuni has become a trusted resource for students seeking guidance on navigating the challenges of academia and managing their finances responsibly. Her dedication to empowering students with practical knowledge underscores her commitment to fostering success and well-being in the student community.

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