British World War I Medal Index Card identifying the man, his regiment and the medals he was due. (C) Ancestry, via Fold3.
Some people can learn by rote with ease: they are exceptional. We all know someone who has a 'photographic memory'; though of these, some of these you will simply be playing coy over the hours they put in. The 'photographic memory' is exceptional.
For most of us learning doesn't simply require us to feel we have put in an effort - this effort is part of the very process that facilitates knowledge acquisition.
Moving on from a period of essay writing based on a few lectures and crawling through a reading list I now find myself engrossed in the digitised part of The National Archive. I find I am, of necessity, doing the digital equivalent of thumbing through boxes of index cards. Every so often I make a match with information that the system doesn't have that I need in order to 'triangulate' the record with a specific person. What I am after are relatively rare First World War Service Records of specific men, from specific battalions, who enlisted in the first week of September 1914. When I get a result, and of some 2000 records I've so far identified 262, the information embeds itself in my head like metal-burning Alien vomit on my skull.
I've earned it; and feel confident that I will be able to work with it. The insight is mine.
I find I am able to do no more than sniff at information from prescribed texts and lectures. I make catch a whiff of something that makes sense, but usually I lose it. I have to be told what it was, and why it matters. I end up writing in a prescribed way. This can produce results, but not very good ones.
Engagement with others, in discussions (online and face to face) and having the kinds of projects we used to get at school when we were still a year or more off an exam, did more for me.
What about you?