Being an eternal student, I do spend a lot of my time reading stuff. Despite reading a lot of stuff on investing I still had no confidence in my ability to pick stocks. Once I started going through CS course materials, I was able to recollect various books I had read and their words would come alive in front of me. The same problem would also occur with CS Study materials too. This confounded me.  So I devised a mechanism in reading CS subjects, that to make notes of highlights I had previously made during reading. This note-taking exercise essentially put whatever I had read into writing. The reading and writing are necessary for proper understanding of any subject.

The illusion of understanding while reading:

Whenever we read, we are quite biased in thinking we know everything. This bias is due to the lack of any concrete signals telling the actual understanding of the subject. The immediate recollection of near topic gives one false sense of understanding, giving reader overconfidence to continue ahead. It’s for this reason reading speeds of people are so huge.

The reading speed of expert readers is whopping 500  WPM(i.e. words per minutes) and novice has speeds of 250 WPMs. This essentially means one consumes lots of content while reading. The content, in this case, gets acquired by eyes. Then moves to the occipital lobe of the brain ( the lobe which processes visual information). From the occipital lobe, it moves to the frontal lobe and storage.  In the case of spoken language, it moves to Broca’s/ Vernickie’s area for synthesis and then storage. ( I am not sure which one is used for which purpose.) While reading/listening the content is never brought out into your active consciousness. This is more like OS thinking data sent to Hard Drive is stored correctly. (An experienced guy will tell – it needs to be verified as the cable may have frayed or HDD may be corrupted.) If there is active retrieval that is going on well after reading is done, you can be sure about the storage of it.

The magic of writing on reading:

In reading, the content is going in and verification is not done. This absence of the verification is the reason why one reads way faster than one types or writes. The reading speeds are 250 WPM for inefficient readers whereas typist struggles around 60 WPM typing speeds. The typing or writing causes opposite thing of reading. In writing the storage is accessed, which then activates motor neurons, which comes out as speech or written text. In all these aspects of reading and writing, the storage and semantics processing are the only ones to be used all the time.

A delayed retrieval ensures whatever read and remembered is retrieved. It also gives acknowledgement of remembering. The retrieval also exercises the semantics section, strengthening it further. If the retrieval in verbal and spoken form is done excessively it becomes a habit. the core reason why experts are experts is that of the habits they have.

Conclusion:

  • Understanding is acknowledged only when you are able to retrieve what you have read.
  • Writing retrieves large amounts of content, which was read earlier.
  • Habituating writing is the one which makes a person expert.