Have you ever read a book and understood everything you read only to realize that when you are done reading the book, you don’t remember very much?
The truth is, there is a big difference between understanding what we are studying and actually remembering it later. Understanding and memory formation are different. It’s possible to remember something that you don’t understand–such as by memorizing it. It’s also possible to understand something and not remember it later. Two different processes are involved. If we want to remember something for the future, we have to do certain things. If we want to understand, we need to do some things to help us understand.
Just remembering that these two are different helps me realize that when I read a book on medicine, for example, it’s not enough for me to understand what I read. Understanding should come first. However, if I end with understanding, I will not remember when I need the information. I must do things like chunking, simple recall, spaced repetition, testing myself, practice using that information in different scenarios to help me remember and continue to remember that information for the future. With remembering, if you don’t use it, you lose it.