Elaboration Leads to Understanding

An overlooked part of understanding information and not merely memorizing it, is to elaborate on the meaning of something you just learned. When taking notes, it’s easy to end up with a detailed list of things without actually understanding the content. Without connecting the ideas with what you already know, you can’t attach the ideas to any scaffolding that would be needed for generating new ideas later (or even recall them).

In How to Take Smart Notes, the author talks about the crucial step of pausing to ask questions of a fact or idea in order to elaborate on it. “What does it mean? What is this similar to? What is the difference between this thing and that thing?”

It’s the connections between ideas that creates meaning, understanding, and new knowledge.

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