As individual students are exposed to new information, they ask themselves questions, corresponding to their specific internal needs for answers. Schools often fail to answer their questions during the course of instruction. Thus, the material they teach often fails to stick in their students' heads for very long. And, for this reason, the phenomenon of the finals cram is born. Students labor to cram material into their heads, but since they haven't generated the questions the material might answer, there are not receptive places for the material to be indexed. Nevertheless, they fight against the natural learning process to try to get the material to stick, if only for a little while. Students then take their tests and forget the material a few weeks or months later. A few students do manage to succeed in this system by finding a way to become curious about the material. Most who "succeed," however, simply force themselves to temporarily retain the material that so readily slides off their memories.
For those who succeed through sheer discipline, even the fraction of the material that does stick tends to not be very useful. The reason for this has to do with the types of internal memory labels students use when indexing what they learn. When students are studying, they typically have the goal of "covering the material" or "getting ready for the test." The way they label the information they memorize is under mental headings such as "stuff I need to know for the chemistry midterm." Such labels are satisfactory if the goal is to recall the material for the test. But if the goal is to be able to apply this knowledge in the real world, then mental indices need to be generated that relate to real-world concerns, that is, that help one achieve real goals or create real plans to achieve those goals. When information enters memory that in no way relates to goals that the possessor of the information may want to accomplish, it is quickly forgotten because there is no meaningful place for it to reside.
Studying vs. Practicing
Where am I in the content of the book?