Learning is associated with the ability to register concepts or information in memory. Although this is not a definition of learning it is the only means of monitoring what we have learnt. Even application depends on memory. But this does not mean that memorizing information indicates that we have learnt something. In many subjects where logic is the guiding principle behind mastering them, memory is only needed to register principles. Learners may also study a subject the wrong way. If the subject is not given due attention either by the teacher or the student there are many mistakes we may continue to make and eventually we do not learn properly. Later when we realize this it becomes necessary to unlearn and relearn.

It is generally difficult to correct our memory errors on our own. Memory monitoring cannot be done without delving into the fundamentals and finding out where we need to avert mistakes. Mistaken associations are a challenge to correct but we need to do that in order to acquire the correct association. This difficulty in learning new information because of existing information is called ‘proactive interference’. Some people have difficulty for instance to relearn swimming because it has become their second nature to swim with flaws. How do we correct this phenomenon? It is said that the prefrontal cortex needs to function properly to monitor one’s memory. Children may have this difficulty because the faculty to monitor memory is not developed. But this error in information association can be corrected by consistent correction. This consistent correction is what we tend to loosely call ‘revision’.

Learning to make new associations helps in correcting mistakes because the trigger is altered and then you remember this new trigger which reminds you of the corrected information. You need to create a new trigger to retrieve the information/principle from your memory. For instance you can convert 5 x 3 into 5 x (1+2) = 5 + 10 = 15. With this new association the direct and shorter association 5 x 3 = 15 replaces the previous association. The previous triggers weaken without reinforcement. This way you can correct mistaken associations by not only reinforcing the new ones but also altering the triggers.

Many learners face this need to unlearn and relearn because of the pressures of instant learning. The online tutoring system caters to such needs as well. Your tutor can review your associations in the past to get you to unlearn a mistaken association and relearn concepts afresh correctly.

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