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मनन, Essential for Learning

आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते पादं शिष्यः स्वमेधया । पादं सब्रह्मचारिभ्यः पादं कालक्रमेण च ॥

This subhashitha gives an overview on how learning happens. It says, a fourth of learning happens through the teacher, one fourth through one’s own intelligence, one fourth through co-learners and the remaining over a period of time.

One quarter of learning happens through one’s own intelligence and efforts. मनन(thought/reflection) is essential for this part of learning. In today’s context, distractions are significant as we are amidst constant visual and auditory stimulus. These stimuli stay with us taking away the ability to concentrate or stay focused on one thing. Technology, in particular mobile and apps therein, have made availability of these distractions handy!

It’s no surprise that many of today’s children don’t reflect (मनन) on what they learn. Tests in which questions only require memorizing, is adding to the reason for not spending time and effort on मनन. ‘Is my child reflecting on what she/he is learning?’ is something for us to observe. Can my intervention as a parent be to foster the practice of मनन? Remember that मनन is not just recalling something from memory. It is to think through, make those connections with other things already known, and traverse the paths of establishing underlying logic. मनन also requires a calm mind and definitely can’t happen under pressure. मनन, when becomes a habit leads to involuntarily rumination, fostering deeper learning.

When distractions increase and occupy our thoughts, श्रवण in the class when the teacher is teaching also becomes arduous. आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते is also in doubt if one is unable to pay attention in the class, however good the teacher or however interesting the topic might be. This unfortunately is also a common observation these days.

I would like to leave with some questions to ponder

Can the habit of मनन be taught/learnt?

If yes, is there a need to create an environment at home to foster मनन?

Can it be a part of everything that we do in life, not restricted to academic learning?

How and what do we do to achieve this?

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