There are three main reasons we actually learn the things we learn and keep remembering what we learned! It is not the traditional way of repetitive learning that goes on and on and hardly stays in your mind for a longer period than a week or two - if you're lucky that means.
Most of us adults learn things for a test and right after the test, only a few hours later or a day or so, we totally forget what we learned. Kids, on the other hand, they learn best when they are eager to know, when they are having fun and while challenging themselves.
Many teachers and politicians believe that children learn best when they repeat after a person or from a text book. They couldn't be more wrong! Children are not parrots. Parrots learn to repeat sounds. Children learn to find the key of the knowledge.
You see, knowledge isn't something we get from repeating after one another. Knowledge is a way we structure what we have learned and structure information that can become new knowledge.
The best ways of learning is by challenging yourself and your own thoughts or former knowledge. It is called to put yourself through a cognitive conflict.
A conflict is normally seen as something negative. But when we use our former knowledge, we see it is not enough to explain a state or solve a mission, then we have to find new information that can help us get through a task.
Here are some examples:
A) A person who likes gardening is usually a person who likes to use their hands and body to grow plants or to organize a garden. When some plants die the person goes to find out more information about the plant through another person or using books or the Internet. No one had to tell that person he or she must repeat and do exactly the same as the neighbor. Perhaps they share different experiences with each other but the reasons for a plant to die could be so many and so various that it would be no use to imitate one another.
B) A person who likes exotic animals has a hard time to find information about them in the original language since these animals cannot be found in that country. But searching for information about these animals in other languages, such as English or for an example Portuguese (one of the biggest countries with most exotic animals is Brazil, where the spoken language is Portuguese). Without even thinking about it, the animal loving person starts learning words and phrases in a totally foreign language just because the information couldn't be found for an example in Danish or German languages.
C) On your way to Australia the flight had to do an emergency landing in a small country where hardly anyone speaks your language. You are hungry, starving, and the airport crew does not understand you. You try to make yourself understood, but soon enough you recognize some gestures and words that might result in some food for you. There is no dictionary, no translator and you have no clue what language on Google translator you can use to get some food. But using your phone and record the voices of the restaurant crew, you find out that Google or Bing has a voice recognition software that searches the Internet for similar phrases and sounds and all of a sudden you learn how to use advanced technology when you never have thought you'd need it. Now is the perfect moment to learn about how useful the technology is. You wouldn't want to learn about this if you had to a month earlier when all you wanted to do was playing your acoustic guitar.
What can be learned from these examples? Well, first of all we never end up in the same situation as we were drilled to learn in school. Second, there is not one identical situation where you learn something and the answer always will be the same. What we have to admit to ourselves is, that no matter what people say, we have to start using our previous knowledge to construct new solutions. There is no better time to invent things as when you are starving!
Learning things about the things you love gives you pleasure and won't bore you to death. Learning things while having fun will let you remember the things forever. Cognitive conflicts in our minds are good and makes us want to learn more. That is the real reason kids learn, not because they are just repeating words or actions. For, had the stone age kids repeated after their parents, we would still be living in the stone age!
So get out there, have fun and learn a million things! Life will never get better than this!