LEARNING HACK #7: The big picture is as important as the details

This post is part of a series challenging our assumptions about learning techniques. We’re giving you up to date information from current research into learning to help you learn effectively. Check out the previous post in this series and read the most recent one below.

You should always understand the context of why you’re learning something and how it fits into everything else before diving into the details.


It’s like when you’re little and your Mum or Dad tries to make you wear your coat outside even though you really don’t want to. You question them on this and all they reply is ‘because I said so’. Explaining that you need to wear your coat because it’s cold outside and your coat will help keep you warm gives the situation a context, making the instruction easier to understand.

Just as wearing a coat requires an explanation, so to do the topics you are learning. Jumping to the content before understanding why that content is important and how it connects to the world around it is a mistake. It has also been proven that people learn better when they understand why first. When you know ‘why’ you naturally prime your brain to receive the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.

(Image Credit)

Want to read more on this topic? Check out these links:

  1. Start with Why – Simon Sinek (TED)
  2. Inverting the Curriculum: Ariel Diaz

What is Up Learn? Up Learn uses artificial intelligence and research from cognitive science to help students achieve A* results. Find out more.

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