Twice in Half

Twice in Half

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Many schools are closed across the country, and it could be a while before they fully reopen.  

Schools systems have scrambled to make online education a viable alternative to in person learning, but like Tom Cruise’s classic line about Porsches in the movie, Risky Business… “There is no substitute.” 

It’s not only kids who are challenged. My firm has 115 Realtors and 25 employees.  Many of them are parents. My executive assistant  has 5 children under 14. My Marketing Director has 6 kids from 4 years old up. I see their daily struggle.  

Yesterday I was thinking about this week’s article topic and it occurred to me that something I learned a few years ago might help today’s kids learn better at home, and perhaps make it a better experience too. 

The Backstory

When real estate slowed back in ’08 I decided to take some time off and take the Arizona bar exam so I could become a licensed attorney in AZ (where I’ve lived since ‘81). I have been a licensed attorney in Ohio, where I grew up, since 1974.  

One of my sons bet me I couldn’t pass the exam after 35 years out of law school. That’s all it took! 

The challenge was I had to relearn 3 years of law school (and new Arizona specific law) in under 5 months

And I forgot to mention… typically a third of 3-year law students flunk the test.  

It made me think of a quote by William “Bull” Halsey, who was one of only four individuals to attain the rank of fleet admiral of the United States Navy…

“There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”

The Plan

I knew I had little chance to pass if I didn’t find a way to learn fast. All the other test takers had just completed 3 years of in person, in school, every day learning. I had to replicate that in 5 months studying from home. 

Sound familiar?

I didn’t know if it would work, but I developed a 4 step study process that I hoped would produce a “twice in half” effect, enabling me to learn twice as much in half the time. 

My 4 Step Study Process

Questions First

Students are taught to study material first, then test their comprehension by answering related questions.

I did it in reverse.

I started with test questions from previous exams and searched out the answers.

Instead of monotonously memorizing pages of content, I first looked at a question, then went on a quest for the right answer. 

This made learning more interesting to me, and it focused me on learning what most mattered (I figured that’s why they made it into questions).   

Foundational Definitions

Every subject has key concepts, dates, formulas, definitions, etc. 

I decided to take each subject and learn the basics first, word-for-word. This was something I learned from my dad, Chubby. 

Chubby owned a real estate firm in Cincinnati while I was growing up. Often at dinner he would drill me on key real estate concepts and definitions, making sure I could repeat them to him verbatim. 

That’s what I did studying for the bar, and once I had the basics down pat, the rest came a heck of a lot easier. 

Podcast Power

To make learning more dynamic, I recorded audio after audio essentially teaching (myself) the material. Then I would listen to my recordings over and over, while working out, even while falling asleep (often to wake up with the recorder going and my earbuds laying on the pillow). 

I found that the constant repetition of me listening to myself accelerated my absorption and retention hugely. 

Student Teacher

This is the BIG one. I discovered that the best way to learn is to teach.

I didn’t have a professor or fellow law school grads to be my “students.”

So, I taught my family. I taught my friends. I taught my dogs (no kidding).   

Anyone who would give me time got a lesson in law. In person. By phone. It didn’t matter. 

I discovered that teaching was fun, made time zip by, and it helped me learn faster and remember better – possibly the best of any of these techniques.  

As French writer Joseph Joubert said, “To teach is to learn twice.” It sure worked that way for me. 

L4X

I called my learning system L4X because I believe it multiplied my learning capacity four times (twice as much in half the time). 

How did things work out?

My goal was to pass, but when the scores were posted, I was #1.

I don’t have a photographic memory or an exceptional IQ. My success was a result of studying my butt off, and using this system.

Cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky once said, “You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way.” That’s what this system caused me to do.  

If you know any kids stuck studying at home, consider sharing these tips. They not only helped me learn, they made 5 months studying at home not all that bad.

– Greg Hague

(I wrote a short L4X eBook anyone can download free at LFourX.com) 

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