Philomath Learning Tip: Consumption vs Production

by David · 0 comments

Note: this article was first shared in my free Philomathnewsletter. Make sure you sign up to  receive the free articles and tips I don’t share on the site.

In a recent article on my site I introduced ‘consumption’ and ‘production’ as a way of improving the way we learn. I explained why most people get stuck at the consumption stage of learning, ignore production, and as a result fail to learn as quickly or as effectively as they could.

If you haven’t read the article then I recommend that you click here to read it first because the rest of this article will be a follow-up.

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When I presented the idea that we must both consume as well produce for the purpose of  learning efficiently it stirred mixed opinions. Most people agreed and accepted the idea, while others disagreed with a little scepticism.

I’m going to expand here in more detail the ideas behind consumption and production and explain in more detail why you need both in order to learn any skill successfully.

Consumption

In order to learn a skill, we first need to consume information, this is a fact and it’s not something anyone can deny. To speak a language you must first internalise the words and sentence structures of the language you want to speak; this is done through listening and reading. A far different example would be learning a dance routine; you would start by watching someone perform the routine a few times, before moving on to try it yourself. Listening to someone speak a foreign language or watching someone perform a dance routine are both forms of consumption and they are both necessary to learn the skills in question.

Consumption of information is easy and this is because it’s largely a passive process, as in it doesn’t take much effort on behalf of the learner. For example, listening to someone speak is easy, and so is watching someone dance. However, the fact that consumption is easy creates a set of problems for learners. One, large amounts of information can be consumed quickly and learners can easily fall into the habit of consuming information with no production. Two, learners can become overconfident because of how easy it is to consume the information, they believe they’ll be able to produce with just as much ease, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Production

Production of information is also important, however it’s more difficult, so this is where most people fall short. This stage of learning is active, as in it takes effort on behalf of the learner. Not only does production take effort, but it also means setting yourself up for failure; It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes when speaking a language, and the same is true when learning a dance routine.  However, it’s these very failures that make this stage of learning so valuable – it provides a platform for feedback. The consumption stage of learning is easy and leaves a lot a room open for error. Do you say amigo or amiga? Do you take a right step or a left step?

By forcing yourself to produce the information that has been consumed in someway, you get valuable feedback as to what you have learnt, what areas you need to improve and you also cement your new found knowledge a little more each time.

Learning is Interconnected

There’s no question that you need both consumption and production for successful learning, so it’s important that you engage with both as much as possible to guarantee success.

In this article I’ve touched upon why both consumption and production are important to successful learning, but what I haven’t explained is what the best practices are for each.

That’ll have to wait for another article 🙂

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve read today, just let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading

-David

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