Our 2 favorite learning techniques

How learning by doing and repetition make us better learners


I’ve always loved learning. But I always noticed something. When I would read a book or watch a documentary, I would retain bits and pieces, or maybe the gist of it, but I always felt like 93% was lost – instantly out of my head – almost right away, never to return. What a waste!

I thought, “How could I possibly retain more of what I learn? What’s the right way to learn that actually leads to high retention?” It turns out, science has the answer.

Learning by Doing

Learning by doing was first popularized by American philosopher John Dewey around 100 years ago. Fast forward to today, and modern researchers are proving it out empirically. For example, 2 Recent studies have found “learning by doing” to be far more effective than any rote method of learning.

Why is this the case? Active engagement facilitates deep learning. In other words, we learn best when we are deeply engaged with the material. In rote reading or lecture-based learning where you’re expected to simply memorize and recall information, so much of the material simply doesn’t have time to be processed so it doesn’t reach long-term memory. The short-term memory is expected to take on too much at once, and simply gets overwhelmed.

Instead, learning needs to happen by the student constructing the knowledge themselves, which they do through action-based learning. In other words, we gain expertise by actively producing what we know.

“Doing” can even mean just mentally doing, says Ulrich Boser at The Learning Agency Lab. For example, If we self-quiz or self-explain something we’ve learned, it converts the learning process from a passive to an active one.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

The second and perhaps more well-known method is repetition. We mention it here because it goes hand-in-hand with learning by doing. These two together are so powerful. 

And once again, modern science is now proving this out in data. A recent study studied brain activity and found that “Repetition creates long term memory by eliciting or enacting strong chemical interactions at the synapse of your neuron. Repetition creates the strongest learning—and most learning—both implicit (like tying your shoes) and explicit (multiplication tables) relies on repetition.”

Give these methods a try next time you really want to learn a new topic and let us know your results.  

Why is the Bodhi program successful? Because at its core, it’s about learning by doing and repetition. We use this approach with the most important lessons in life, like gratitude, forgiveness, love, play, compassion, and more. Words that you might know… but aren’t necessarily "in your muscle." We aim to help you assimilate them into muscle memory, one month at a time, in our action-based, repetition-based approach.


Finally, we want to say a word about timing. Our program leverages something called temporal landmarks, which is a fancy way of saying we can ensure a better likelihood of your success by getting you to start something new on the first of the month.

That being said, the number of days it takes to develop or change a habit depends wildly on the person, and so we can't promise that 30-31 days worth of a behavior change is going to be right for you. We instead urge that you feel it out. If it seems to take longer, then give it some more time to sink in. There's nothing wrong with overlapping mantras. 

Do you have thoughts about any of the methods above? Let us know in the comments.

Keep Practicing,

The Bodhi Band Team


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