The difference between active and passive learning

There are two types of learning; passive and active.

Passive learning feels easier to do.

This is the type of learning that occurs when you have a podcast or audiobook on in the background, browse through Twitter, or skim through a blog post.

Active learning, on the other hand, feels harder to do.

It requires you to dedicate time and mental energy to analyse every point until you understand it fully, revise, and apply your own thoughts to the subject.

This is what your teachers made you do back in school by writing out notes and answering questions.

Passive learning is often more enjoyable because it requires less effort.

Your brain can choose when to tune in and focus and everything else can pass by without consuming your mental bandwidth.

The hope is that you are consuming the important parts and you’ll be able to apply the lessons you learn in the future.

However, much like the classroom, it’s the people that actively apply their brains to actively learning the topics that end up with the best understanding.

What’s the problem with active learning though?

It takes much more time.

Doing a workshop or writing out notes for everything you consume simply isn’t possible when we’re presented with so much information each day.

But, this active approach also isn’t necessary to learn everything.

Passive learning does work.

The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t work as well as active learning.

If you really want to get good at something, you can’t expect to do achieve it by putting your brain on autopilot.

Taking notes in the margins, discussing the issues with others, and brainstorming your own thoughts will be necessary if you really want to get good.