Building your knowledge village

This happened on Twitter a few days ago. I suggested a book to someone on Twitter and he answered back saying he'd read it and would probably re-read again. I caught myself thinking 'why would he re-read it?'.

It got me thinking that the way we learn (at least in North America) tends to favor quantity over quality. And one example of that is that we will very rarely re-read the same books twice. Instead, we go through books, articles and news in a linear way, as if they were mileage signs on a road we needed to keep moving forward on. And I realize this method of learning has its limits.

I don’t remember much from my high school geography class. I don’t remember much from my University’s accounting class. I don’t remember much from the books I read 3 years ago.

Wouldn’t it better to read, re-read, do and re-do the same things over and over? Isn’t it the only way we can truly absorb new knowledge and develop better skills? It feels like once we did something, it’s done. We checked it. But is it really useful in the future?

When I was 15 I wanted to become a professional snowboarder. The main thing I did when I was not snowboarding was watching movies and reading magazines. But I didn’t go through new ones all the times. I watched the same movies, the ones I thought were truly the best, over and over again. I must have watched them a thousand times. And every time I learned something. It’s scary to think that now, I go through a book, a movie or an article and I mentally check it.

If I’d have to map knowledge, I’d like mine to look more like a village than a road. And for that, you have to come back often to the same places. Even if it feels less exciting than visiting new ones. Building your knowledge village takes time and it will require forcing yourself to revisit areas you think you know well.

p.s. in 2018, I’m adding on my reading list a lof of basic history, geography and finance stuff I’ve seen in school. Because even if « I did all of this » it doesn’t feel like it in my day to day.