I spent a very high proportion of my time at school and university making notes….notes from teachers, notes in lectures, notes from books and articles. This had a number of benefits:
1 It forced me to consider what I was going to note and what I was going to omit. This process of selection, which is continuous, in turn forced me to think about what was important and what was not.
2 As I had been taught (by a school friend as it happens) to arrange my notes in a stepped hierarchy down the page (main point, followed by subsiduary points and examples), I had to consider what the main points were…so I was again forced to think and sift as I listened or read.
3 The process of writing down helped to force the information into the longer-term memory.
4 I was left with a version of the knowledge which was mine, which I understood and which I could add to later in the margins.
This process is so creative, so rewarding, that I continue to use it for my own teaching. I am NOT therefore nervous of lecturing, as long as my students are engaged – and it is the process of making notes which engages them. By which I mean it makes them think.
Asking pupils to make notes is slightly slower than the alternative – giving them notes you have written yourself and photocopied or emailed. But it is a superior teaching method.