“Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand.” The old Chinese praised activity as the most effective way to learn new stuff. Reading however is often a first step to get your head around an topic area. Its one of the first techniques we learn in school. Yet many people do know master this skill. Why’s that? Let’s check out causes and measures the ExperienceZone way.

How we learn by writing and reading

Writing and reading are basic skills. They go hand-in-hand. Learning new things traditionally happens by reading a text. Already in the stone age, our ancestors painted hunting stories on cave walls. In ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphs tell us stories of pharaohs and their allegiances.

Nowadays, first graders learn reading and usually thereafter writing in school. Especially early in life, reading and writing create new synaptic connections. Those increase our know-what and know-how alike. Whilst former helps you to appear smart at a barbecue party small-talk, latter makes you mentally flexible. In other words: Know-how reflects your ability to quickly come up with creative solutions to ad-hoc problems. A key skill in our increasingly complex world.

Reading and writing have a nature-nuture-relation and can create a virtuous cycle of mastery. By reading a text, you get a basic understanding. If you extract its essence by writing a summary in your own words thereafter or even enriching it with related knowledge, your mind starts to dig really deep into the meaning. This approach increases your memory. If you only read a text, you remember 30% of the content. Yet if you add other senses, like hearing and speaking to seeing, you memorize 70%. In case you even massage the content, it jumps to 90%!

Ergo: Usually it starts with reading. Then you top up by listening to stuff, discussing it or even adding your own flavor. An approach which education institutions follow.

Many people lack the basics

Due to various reasons, 6 out 8 human beings cannot read and/or write. Hence they face serious challenges to qualify for jobs. With increasing complexity across all industries and thus professions, reading and writings are givens in your corporate world. Moreover illiterates have a hard time in their everyday hustle and bustle. Text is our communication foundation. Signposts, newspaper and signatures. Anytime and anywhere we’re expected to read and write stuff. Those who can’t are socially disabled and run the risk to be isolated.

What can you do to make a change?

Take a two-pronged approach: Take care of yourself before you help others (freely according to the oxygen supply advises on an airplane).

  1. Focus and expand. There’re gazillion books. Every year more than ever get published. This is due to the fact that our collective knowledge pool grows year over year plus bringing out your own book has never been easier. So, check first into which areas you want to dive deeper into to fuel your employability to reinforce your career choice intellectually. Either you’re passionate about a subject already or you develop it through digging into it. Yet if it’s too far off your interest mark, reading about it will be frustrating. Find the right balance. At ExperienceZone, we believe in well-rounded T-shape skill-sets. Hence, put your expertise stakes in the ground and expand into related areas thereafter.
  2. Learn systemically. Yeah, if you made it to here, you can surely read (although my English is admitably sometimes hard to decipher). Yet you can always step up your game. Check out speed-reading for instance. Especially if you read a lot, it can make sense to do this more efficiently. Just bear in mind, that effectiveness, i.e. comprehensibility can suffer if you skim over text without really digesting it. Therefore you want to smartly combine initial reading with consecutive mind-mapping, talking and writing  summaries. Consider buying an eReader to save money, packing weight and volume during travels. Think about audio books, which you can listen too whilst almost any physical activity. Absorb knowledge everyday, yet take time to let it sink. Read inspiring light content unrelated to your profession prior to going to sleep. This enables recovery and expands your horizon.
  3. Support others. Reading and writing are privileges. However, they don’t need to be. You can help people to learn or improve their skills. Get to know NGOs, which help those having the short end of the literature stick. Check how you can support without only donating money. Give tutoring to people in need. Those can be the student next door or one on the other side of the world. Modern phone and video conferencing tools are available to transfer knowledge. Teaching helps you to master content. Plus you can make it a two-way street: Almost every other human being can teach you something. You are good in math and want to gain basic Mandarin language skills? Find a student in China interested in learning English and filling her math knowledge gaps! There’re no limits and thus excuses nowadays.