Having fun with learning

It sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but I think it’s really important to have fun with your studies. There are a few reasons for this. On the one hand, you’ll have an easier time studying and learning if you like studying and learning. You may also be able to remember things better through fun and humour, than you would with other brute memorization and learning techniques. It might also make that content you learn more accessible for the non-academic community (we’re all about the social transmission of knowledge these days). For me, it helps to understand content if I can learn it in a fun way.

So, that said, here are the top five ways I have fun with my learning.

1. Weird associations. Sometimes you remember things through associations. We used to be taught the order of the planets by thinking “my very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas” (though these days, she probably just serves us noodles). When I try to remember which ancient Greek philosopher came first, Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates, I just picture them all hanging out in a spa together, talking about the [im]plausibility of each other's theories: S-P-A, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. These are simple ones, but they get continually more bizarre as time proceeds.


2. Bad puns. This Valentine’s Day, I wrote and tweeted 288 philosophy-related pickup lines; and, in general, I’m always making bad puns. Like weird associations, bad puns help me to make more connections with the things I’ve learned, while having a lot of terrible fun doing so. Now, whenever I learn a new concept, I try to keep in mind how I might be able to turn it into a pun. Trying to recall some geneaology of Ancient Greece? Try the line: "Is your father Charmantides? Because you're Gorgias." And then, when trying to remember the father's name, just run by (1) and make an association: I think of Charmander the pokemon, because the pick up line is supposed to imply that the other is also hot.

3. Songs. I’ll leave this one to Sarah's latest post. But while I never sing outside of the shower, I constantly have songs stuck in my head. Why not make them educational?

4. Conversation Challenges. Every now and then, I like to make sure I’m able to apply what I learn. Especially since what I tend to learn are things in philosophy, and those things are rarely presented in a way that seems important or valuable to a wider community. So, every now and then, I challenge myself to bring up a particular concept or theory in at least one conversation per day. It’s not always easy, but I’ve been surprised in what connections can be drawn. You try bringing the principle of unrestricted mereological composition into a conversation about where to eat tonight: not that easy!

5. Jokes. Just like the other challenges, the trick is to try and turn what I learn into the punchline of a bad joke. What’s a better way to break the ice at a party than a subject-specific knock-knock joke? Plus, if you’re brave enough to share your joke, you’ll also have to be able to explain the punchline, which helps motivate you to know your theories. If you tell someone that Socrates walks into the club like "Hey y'all what's Good?", you'll have to have a good grasp on the Platonic Forms and the socratic method, as well as a good appreciation for the fact that this joke will never be as funny as I want it to be. But that's the point.

Have any other tips on how to make learning fun or enjoyable? Leave them in the comments!

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