Eight Good Reasons to Tangle with the Text (before Class)

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If you are taking a wine or spirits class—or just about any academic-style class for that matter—you most likely have a textbook or other written content to accompany the class. In all likelihood, this material defines the structure of your class, and each individual class session is built upon a specific chunk of that content.

News flash: you will be a far better student, a far better colleague, and a more successful exam candidate if you read the assigned content BEFORE the scheduled class, webinar, or lecture.

Here is why:

You set yourself up to learn during class: If your webinar, class, or lecture is your first exposure to the material, it will be a series of “a-ha” moments, and you’ll have lots of basic, background questions running through your head. On the other hand, if the class is your second (or subsequent) exposure to the material, you will have already worked through the basics and will set yourself for deeper understanding and engagement with the material.

You build your all-important bank of background knowledge: By reading the content before class, you are expanding your background knowledge about the topic, and you have created more and more neurological pathways and connections between the bits of subject matter. In other words, you’ve created more “hooks” on which to hang the “facts” that you want to understand and remember.

You won’t injure your hand by maniacal scribbling: If you do not read the material beforehand, you’ll be tempted to write down almost everything the instructor says. While taking notes during a lecture is a great way to learn, the ideal ratio of note taking-to-listening is somewhere around 20%/80%. That means you are taking notes 20% of the time and listening the other 80% of the time. If you are writing most of the time, you will miss a lot of what is going on in the class or lecture.

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You are better able to focus during class: If you read the content before class, you will have a road map of sorts for the class; you have at least an idea of what to expect. As such, you will be able to follow along with ease.

You can dig deeper: If you show up for class with an understanding of the basics, you can use the class time to concentrate on the more challenging (or detailed) material. In addition, you can take advantage of the availability of the instructor to get your more complex questions answered.

You can jump-start your spaced repetition: If you read the material the day before class, the class itself can serve as your second exposure to the material. With a bit of pre-planning, your class can be a ready-made part of your program of spaced repetition.

You can un-learn what you need to: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been teaching a class when someone asks a question that begins with the words but I thought (as in but I thought all Super Tuscans were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon).  If you always thought that all Super Tuscans were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, a quick reading of chapter 10 in the Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide will set your straight. If the subject is still confusing, you can bring it up during class, but the least you can to is come prepared.

And finally—we know (but we love you anyway): Here is a super-secret-teacher-truth: your teacher can easily tell if you have—or have not—read the material ahead of time based on your interactions during class. Just sayin’.

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

3 Responses to Eight Good Reasons to Tangle with the Text (before Class)

  1. V. Palm says:

    Such good advice to a lazy reader. Some learn better by hearing the word, others learn better by seeing the word. Why not give both learning tracks the info. Thanks, Miss Jane.

  2. Kristin says:

    This article “woke me up” I will be certain to make the time to read before class, no matter what! I also showed this article to my son who is in college. Thank you!

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