How are (or were, as the case may apply) your classrooms? If they are like mine they'd look like this: The teacher stands somewhere at the front. She rarely strolls around nor gazes with intent at every student. She is somehow fixated on some students. Tibeck and Wemimo sit in front. Their position in class gives the impression that they listened attentively and are loved by our teachers. James and Kayode are sending notes to each other on which football club they think will win the UEFA Champions League. John leads a group at the opposite end on the room. All teachers feel he and his group won't amount to much. They hold this impression even as it is popularly accepted that John is one of the most intelligent students in the set. Sagir is listening intently, flipping through a textbook while the teacher speaks, taking side notes where he feels they are needed and interestingly engaging the boring teacher. Where was I? I was the definition of "lost" somewhere at the back of the room.How did our results turn out? Well Sagir got just nine A's out of nine subjects, Tibeck and Wemimo got enough credits to get into a university, John and his group were suspended and didn't write the examination with us, James, Kayode and I failed woefully. Of course we pretended we were shocked by the results but we knew deep down that we didn't deserve better.
Learning, as Sagir showed us, was best done by active engagement. When you are engaged in a thing it establishes itself deeper and better in our brains hence increasing our chances of actually learning and remembering it when the need arises. But what do most of us do? We passively listen. Passive listening leaves you with the deception of learning when you aren't.
Unfortunately, passive listening is what our classrooms, churches, seminars and conferences are designed to accommodate. Someone stands in front of an audience and goes on and on with something he is presumed to know better than all. The ability of the audience is judged by how attentive they are. We ignore the major fact that silence is not a prove of attention and much less shows learning has been achieved.
If you'd learn better and faster you should be actively engaged in it. Never allow lethargy take you over. Engage your mind, engage your teacher (a good teacher will love this), engage your lesson materials. Probe deeper than is expected of you and you will certainly learn better. This would work no matter where you use it.