Forgetting curve

In the last article we looked at learning styles and the rate at which we learn. I would like to share an interesting point, but let me first ask you, “How much do you remember of what you learnt at school?” Probably not that much.

It is suggested that from the age of around 5, our learning drops as we progress through the rest of our lives. We said in the last article, that this potentially has a lot to do with how we get taught to learn. The other thing to factor in, is how much we remember of what we have learnt.

Forgetting curve

Forgetting curve

Who created the Forgetting Curve?

Hermann Ebbinghaus was a German psychologist, in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, who pioneered the experimental study of memory and is known for his discovery of the forgetting curve. He noticed that we tend to only remember around 25% of what we learnt within 48 hours. That then drops further as time passes.

Earlier in our schools career, we learn how to read and understand language, spelling and maths etc. using the left brain method. This helps to set a foundation of future learning. However if we integrate and use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain, we are able to learn and remember a lot more. We already proved that we learn very well using the right brain, as we have been talking and understanding language for some time before we start schooling.

Milton Erickson, a renowned hypnotherapist and medical doctor, asked “How is it that when we first learnt to read we did not know the difference between a B and a D, between a P and a Q and yet soon we could read whole words and then whole sentences and then whole pages and books?” We use the right brain, unconscious mind to process the language and is how you learn to recognize those squiggly lines on the page are letters.

The conscious mind can only handle 7 +- 2 pieces of information at a time. By using the unconscious mind we can process a lot more information. When we are able to utilize both our conscious and unconscious minds, then we are able to learn and remember more information easier. Thus when we learn with our preferred learning styles and utilizing our “intelligence,” then learning is experienced as being more fun and we increase our recall.

How can we increase our our memory?

We can also use different ways to encourage learning and recall, example, Mind Maps or Cornell Notes. This helps to engage the right hemisphere of the brain and increases recall as we start to get the “creative juices” flowing. Using different colours, pictures and non-linear ways of writing. Helping to integrate left and right brain thinking and working. If you don’t know about mind maps, then you can find out more by reading Tony Buzan’s book on mind maps.

In understanding all this as a coach, we can see that telling your client what to do, does not serve your client. In fact if the client does not own the solution, then they are much more likely to forget or not implement the action steps. The aim of coaching is to assist the client through powerful questioning, to come up with their own solutions. The client uses their preferred learning style and engages the whole brain to find solutions. There is also a direct correlation between how much one remembers or forgets between; being told something, being told and shown; and being told, shown and experiencing or doing. In this case the client comes up with the solution and takes the actions. Thus the coach does not need to be an expert in the field that they are coaching the client in, as the coach does not tell the client what to do.

Understanding learning styles and how we learn and forget can be very useful, not only as a coach, but also as parents, teachers etc. Let’s empower our children and help them to become better learners than we were. Now of course you are already becoming a better learner if you implement some of these techniques we have been discussing in the last couple of posts.

Again I hope you found this article useful and ask that you please share it for others to read.

Have an amazing day and focus on your goals.