“Forgetting is the
friend of learning.”
Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College, in the New York Times.
paradox, the two-faced figure. From the Greek, meaning “contrary to received wisdom.”
A recent study seems to show that concentrated study in one place leads to less learning than bursts of study with intervals of unlearning. It’s the re-learning that makes the material stick, apparently. The study’s lead author, Nate Kornell, sums up the conclusion in a neat paradox. To learn, you must forget.
The paradox and its Siamese-twin cousin, the oxymoron, show that the world is neither black-and-white nor gray. It’s black on white, a jumble of realities and beliefs. The ancient Greeks called these perceptions doxa, a term that survives in the Christian Doxology, a statement of belief.
Some ages tolerate a riot of doxa. Other ages burn Korans and call political opponents traitors. Want to think like an Aristotle? Take everything you believe and construct a cogent argument against it.
Do it when you’re supposed to be cramming for an exam or studying a memo. You’ll learn a lot.