A lecture, a presentation, or a course are elaborate constructs in which we rarely grasp all of the connections or their arrangement on the first try. Often we grasp that certain elements are important but not necessarily why. So we take notes that we then reinterpret later. We reread our notes and connect the ideas between them while building our own understanding. Across time and technology, note-taking is a normal part of learning.
More commonly, we take notes to remember important data, to capture original ideas, to recall leading ideas, critical moments, questions to ask or ponder, even if it means filing away all this jumble of traces later. Taking notes is only the first step; the second is their interpretation and organization that will result in an understanding, a discovery, a decision or a work. Today digital applications help us in this work better than ever.
We consult our notes with a more critical eye than in the heat of the moment. We share our notes with less success, but they still show our attention, what interested us, impressed us, what seems important. Is it really? Sharing notes leads to discussion. The first notes that Mendeleev shared led to the periodic table. Interpreting notes is a re-creative process; one recreates what was observed.
Failing to take notes, one can always go back to the book.
Denys Lamontagne - [email protected]