"Life doesn't happen in the classroom."
Intuitively, this made a lot of sense to me while growing up. But up until early 2021, I did not know that this was a formalized concept in learning and developmental psychology.
And then, all that we were doing at Stoa started clicking.
The concept I'm talking about is called the Tony Marsh Method.
The Tony Marsh Method is all about how the environment you're in when you're learning something can affect how well you remember it later. The idea is that if you're trying to learn something, it's better to do it in a place that's as close as possible to where you'll actually need to use that knowledge.
In other words, simulate the environment in which you'll need to remember, ranging from where you study, to what you hear, and even how you feel.
For example, let's say you want to learn a language really quickly.
Instead of just sitting in a classroom and studying it, you'd be better off spending as little time as possible in that classroom and as much time as possible talking to native speakers. That way, you're more likely to remember the language when you actually need to use it in the real world.
Another example is astronaut training.
When they're getting ready to go to space, astronauts have to run through all their procedures in the cockpit of the spacecraft. This way, they're more likely to remember what to do when they're actually up there.
And in medicine, students use simulation labs to practice procedures before they do them on real patients. By practicing in a setting that's as close as possible to the real thing, they're better able to remember what to do when they're actually performing the procedures.
Heck, even in sports, athletes often use visualization techniques to improve their performance. This involves creating a mental simulation of the sporting event, including all of the sights, sounds, and sensations that they would experience in the real event. By practicing in this way, the athletes are better able to encode the necessary movements and strategies, and retrieve them when they are actually performing in a real-life competition.
In the military, soldiers often use simulated weapons and explosives, and practice tactics and strategies in environments that closely resemble the actual battlefield. By doing this, the soldiers are better able to encode the necessary information and retrieve it when they are in a real-life combat situation. If you've seen Top Gun Maverick, you know what I'm talking about.
I've even heard that if you chew a kind of gum while studying, chewing that same gum in the examination hall can help you retrieve information better!
Pretty cool, huh?
So, if you wish to evaluate if a piece of learning will really stick or not, see to what extent did your learning environment simulate the setting in which you'll be applying that knowledge.
If your answer is "very little," you may have to test your knowledge in the environment it was built for, before having any confidence in it.