Studying a Subject

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

A subject is studied best on a gradient. In other words, you start studying a subject using simple materials that introduce you to the basic ideas in that subject; and then you gradually study more complex details. Trouble arises when you miss understanding the basic ideas in a subject, because they are fundamental to the understanding of all its details.

In subject clearing, when you have made a list of all the subjects that you had trouble with, it gives you an overview of your “mental tumor”. To start resolving that tumor, you start as close to the core of the tumor as possible. So you pick up the earliest subject  that you recall having trouble with. And then you focus on the fundamental ideas in that subject.

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The Earliest Subjects

Anything that influences a person becomes a part of his learning in some way. There is some evidence that a child’s learning starts from the perceptions reaching it in the womb. We are interested in clearing the perceptions that did not get assimilated. Such perceptions may be beyond the awareness of the person for now, but they will, ultimately, get assimilated during the process of subject clearing. 

We, therefore, start with the subject in which the person can recall having his earliest confusions.  These subjects may be identified as,

  1. The subject of expressing oneself (language), and
  2. The subject of thinking coherently (mathematics).

This boils down to learning different sounds and the meaning of different symbols.

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An Example of Clearing

As a math tutor, I get a kick out of asking my students, “What is the difference between a digit and a number?” Sometimes I ask this question to the parents too, in order to demonstrate how I am tutoring their child. There is hardly a more basic question in mathematics. It quickly reveals the depth of understanding a person has of fundamental concepts.

Most people fumble around for a precise answer. They have some inkling of the difference between a digit and a number but they can’t seem to put it exactly in words. Then I ask them, “Okay, can you tell me the difference between a letter and a word?” The response I get here has more certainty. Most people know that there are only 26 letters in English that are used to make the thousands of words that you find in a dictionary.

Then I point out that digits are like “letters” and numbers are like “words”. There are only ten digits in math that are used to write infinity of numbers. All of sudden I see bright smiles and shining faces. Some intractable confusion apparently got cleared, and got replaced by a certainty.

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Study

It is simple clearing of confusion as above, and new realizations about things, that keep a person motivated about learning. His curiosity is kept alive and he wants to study all kinds of things.

The word ‘study’ comes from Latin studium ‘zeal, painstaking application’. When a person is curious and motivated, he or she studies naturally in the real sense of the word.

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