Study techniques

In tackling the lack of educational training among the students at the university he founded in Dublin, Newman penned a series of articles on what nowadays would be called study techniques and revision skills, and in this way attempted to provide guidance to students and those who advised and taught them. Some of the articles touched on strategies for mastering particular subjects, such as ‘On Latin composition’ and ‘The study of geometry’, while others were of a more general nature: two about techniques for improving one’s memory, two on how to profit from reading, one on time-management, and another on the purpose of lectures. There was even one on the wishful thinking and self-indulgence – such as the tendency to dabble – that students are prone to, and the need for them to follow a prescribed routine and avoid caprice.

Follow the links below to read these articles:

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Some of these articles were later included in second half of the Idea: the following four went to form section IV on ‘Elementary Studies’

‘The examination at entrance’, 1 June 1854

‘The entrance exam, a trial of accuracy’, 22 June 1854

‘Specimens of youthful inaccuracy of mind’, 6 July 1854

‘On Latin composition’, 18 January 1855

and another with omissions went to form section IX on ‘Discipline of Mind’

‘Public lectures of the University’, 5 April 1855

Other articles were not polished up or republished:

‘On artificial memory’, 1 January 1855, which deals with Ciciero, Quinctilian, and a German called Feirgyle

‘On the distribution of a Student’s time’, 8 February 1854, which asserts that ‘it is part of the very discipline of a University to allow their minds to be moulded by the infusion of an element of freedom into’ the restrained system of schoolboy; and insists on a balance between ‘excessive toil and aimless indolence’

‘On keeping diaries’, 15 February 1855, a most useful method of self-improvement; contrasted with the common-place book; most student diaries could be turned into something like Pascal’s Pensées

‘Latin conversation’, 1 March 1855

‘On getting up books’, 1 March 1855, half the difficulty of higher education, of the object of university training, is removed when a student is able to grasp what is meant by getting up books; the boyish state of mind is superficial, careless, never goes below surface, very impatient of intellectual labours, i.e. does not bring into play memory, reason and imagination; ‘mere’ reading is about as useful as smoking a cigar

‘On getting up books II’, 8 March 1855, ‘Nothing is our own but what you have thought through, and thought out’; two methods for reading a book

‘Study of Geometry’, 3 May 1855, good comes not from the resulting knowledge but from the mental exercise involved; the study of geometry tends to invigorate the mind, remove mistiness, vagueness of thought, indistinctness of expression, want of attention to subject, and to what hearer knows

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