A Stitch in Mind

Final exams are important because they encourage students to review what they have learned.

So why do so many students say that they learn something for the final – and forget it the next day?  

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Review, the integration of prior learning into new information, is like sewing a stitch.  With each new piece of information, you have to go back and tie it to the existing thread.  If this doesn’t happen, you could get the thread caught on a hook (such as summer break), and the garment of learning would unravel.

Winston Churchill was a master of the English language not because he excelled quickly.  In fact, he was placed in the remedial class, in which he reviewed the basics – for three years.  In the words of the Bulldog:

[B]y being so long in the lowest form I gained an immense advantage over the cleverer boys. They all went on to learn Latin and Greek and splendid things like that. But I was taught English…  As I remained in the Third Form three times as long as anyone else, I had three times as much of it. I learned it thoroughly. Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence–which is a noble thing. 

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