The Value of Silence in the Learning Process

Most people would agree that their faculty of "concentration" on reading and attempts to memorize information becomes more difficult if someone is speaking or whispering nearby. Studies have substantiated the disruptive effect of speech on learning and memory. Silence, i.e., absence of ambient sound or noise facilitates the process of learning and memory.

In simple language, learning means a modification of behavior in response to experience resulting from the acquisition and retention of abilities and their integration with some prior experience. Whereas, memory is the mental function of the organism (human or animal) by which it registers, retains, recognizes and recalls previous impressions and experiences. Thus, without memory there is no learning. Habits and skills are in general interpreted as processes included in the concept of learning. They are subject to disuse or reversal, to alteration or extinction, but usually are not forgotten.

The main group of interconnected brain structures controlling emotions is termed as the limbic system. It regulates behavior like feeling of pleasure, anger, rage and fear. It also regulates learning, biological rhythms, sexual activity and feeding.

In the early sixties (1965) the view that memory was a single process system was discarded. It gave way to the dual-process theory of memory

It consists of primary memory like Short-Term Memory (STM), and secondary memory like Long-Term Memory (LTM). STM has a limited storage capacity, and on overflow the new items displace old items which are permanently lost or forgotten. LTM has an infinite capacity, and is relatively permanent. Here an additional operative factor is rehearsal, i.e., if an item is rehearsed, it may remain in STM and also may enter LTM. Thus, the dual-memory model was evolved. STM results in an unstable trace of recent events, served by a reverberating neural circuitry. Whereas, LTM involves a permanent structural change in ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. Another factor plating a role in this process is the ability to concentrate or pay due attention to the task in hand. Silence facilitates the process of concentration by the subject, whereas, ambient noise or verbal speech interferes with the ability to concentrate and learn an item. In short, memorizing an item involves three main processes, namely, registration, retention, and retrieval. Silence in its turn facilitates learning and memory.

Interestingly, the WebMd daily newsletter of 7th July 2016 has enumerated 12 reasons for somebody not being able to pay due attention to the task in hand: Social media; E-mail overload;; Your cell phone; Multitasking; Boredom; Nagging thoughts; Medication; Stress; Fatigue; Hunger; Depression; and the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADHS). These factors are mostly the result of the current modern life style. The remedy is to judiciously tackle and hold these factors within limits. This would avoid "stress disorders" and "diseases of adaptation".

Let’s consider some remedial measures to tackle the 12 factors which are likely to interfere with the learning process:

  1. Social media: Avoid logging in to social media while undertaking jobs which require keen attention.

  2. E-mail overload: E-mail shoots into your inbox and itches to be answered immediately. Do not stop in between your current job to answer the mail. Set aside a specific time for checking E-mail.

  3. Your cell phone: Put caller ID to good use. If you suspect the call is not urgent, let it go to voice mail.

  4. Multitasking: Devote your attention to one task at a time. Tidy up your desk to avoid likely distraction.

  5. Boredom: Boring tasks decrease your attention span. Take a 10-minute break after completion of a task.

  6. Nagging thoughts: Make a list of such thoughts, and plan to complete them later.

  7. Stress: Learn stress reduction techniques like meditation and yoga. Find time for recreation and playing games to keep stress at bay.

  8. Fatigue: Ensure about 7 To 8 hours of sleep per night.

  9. Hunger: Eat high-protein snacks (cheese, nuts etc.) to keep hunger away.

  10. Depression: Obtain advice of a doctor or counselor.

  11. Medication: Some medications can interfere with attention and concentration.

  12. ADHS: It is not just a disorder in children. It is also experienced by some adults who suffer the classic sign of a 'short attention span'. Behavioral therapy and counselling may be needed.

These simple measures may facilitate the learning process.


More by :  Dr. Frank S. K. Barar

Top | Health

Views: 3556      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.