Many people have trouble with school and their education, and dropout with a stunted intellectual life and low earning capability.
Many others have trouble and failure with some subjects (such as math and science) and avoid them. They feel that the subjects are too difficult or too advanced for them.
There is a reason and a solution for all this.
On Study, Comprehension, and Learning
- 1. Easier and easier: As you advance in that area of study, it becomes easier. The more you study, the easier it is to learn more. The more you understand, the easier it is to understand more. Eventually, you are comfortable with and even master the field. You are able to produce your desired results in that area.
- 2. More and more difficult: The more you study and try to advance, the more difficult and confusing, the more incomprehensible, the area seems to become. Eventually give up that study, or resort to memorization without comprehension to pass any tests.
Illustration: The two paths in study and learning.
Verify this in your own experience. Three examples of each path would be good.
Path #1: What areas of study knowledge have you mastered, or are at least comfortable in your understanding? (One example would be in your career, profession, or work. Another might be mathematics, or music, or a foreign language, or art.) The important point is to identify things that you have learned that became easier and easier as you progressed.
Path #2: What areas of study have you experienced as growing complicated or difficult? What studies have you abandoned? (For some people, science and math are examples.)
The question is: What determines which path a student travels?
The first part of the answer: It is NOT the subject matter! NOR your level of intelligence.
The factor which decides which path you go, up or down, is whether you went past a misunderstood idea at any point in that subject, or any previous subject relevant to the present subject. When you do past a misunderstood word or idea, the material will become more and more incomprehensible. You can go past a misunderstood idea and never know it until pages, chapters, books, or years later.
The comprehension of the advanced ideas in any science requires the comprehension of all of the previous, more basic ideas on that subject. Any failure to understand a previous idea will create a domino effect of greater and greater incomprehensibility in the subject. The first misunderstood idea will cause one or more of the subsequent ideas to be misunderstood, which will cause its subsequent ideas to be incomprehensible, which makes impossible the compression of the even more advanced ideas. A single misunderstood idea is sufficient to stop the learning of an entire science.
ONE misunderstood word is sufficient to cause the misunderstanding of an idea.
This is the basic problem in education today. If you want to verify this, take any student who is having problems with any subject. Take the student’s textbook and ask the student to demonstrate ideas previous to where the student is currently studying the subject. Make sure you consult the student’s understanding and not memorization: memorization without full comprehension is not learning and guarantees the domino effect. And do not accept a verbal explanation: have them draw out the idea in some way. If the student cannot draw it, the student does not understand it. Only drawing permits another person to verify comprehension. Verbal testing does not.
You will not always recognize that you have not understood something correctly. The first sign may be that the material seems to become more difficult. Furthermore, the misunderstood idea may be pages or even chapters previous to where you experience the difficulty. For example, I have seen a misunderstood idea in the 3rd-grade cause inability to understand 6th-grade math.
When you do not understand an idea, the cause is not the idea, but rather a misunderstood word (MUD) in the idea. There are a dozen ways to misunderstand a word. Most words have more than one definition and we often do not know all of them. We can apply a correct definition of the word, but incorrect meaning for that sentence and we have MUD. Clear the meaning of all the words in an idea, and usually the idea will be clear.
If you want to verify this, take any material you are trying to learn. Find ideas you do not understand or about which you are unclear. Then look for words that seem doubtful to you in their meaning. Learn the word in a good dictionary and reread the idea. You will have to backtrack to the first misunderstood word in the subject and restudy everything again from that point to understand all the ideas.
All sciences and technologies have specialized and technical vocabulary. However, usually such terminology is easily recognizable as a new and unknown word and is defined when first introduced. It is usually not the technical words that cause the snowball effect, but rather common words with multiple definitions are misunderstood, but rather normal words.
Some people teach that when you do not understand something, you should continue reading in the hope that it will become clearer later. This is really, seriously, bad advice. This usually guarantees the domino effect of accumulating more and more MUDs and is fatal to learning. Always clear the meaning of every sentence as you go by assuring your application of the correct definition of each word in the sentence.
The first misunderstood word in a study dominos you into more and more misunderstood ideas and the subject becomes impossible to master (until you go back and clear up each misunderstood idea from the beginning).
On reading this essay or navigating on our website, you are entering into the study of a science, a science of spirituality called Essentiality. It is not a religion, as we will show. For most people, it contains many radically new ideas. I invite you to pay special attention to making sure you understand every word and every idea before proceeding to the next. I define the technical terms (a) when they are first introduced, (b) in the glossary.
All other words are employed using one of their normal definitions, and if you have any doubts about their meanings, look them up in a good English Remember, never proceed beyond an idea you do not understand. Never go past a word you do not understand. A contact form at the same site offers a place where you can post comments and questions.