GRE Issue Essay 58

“The best way to learn a new subject or skill is to study small segments or details in great depth rather than to start by trying to develop a sense of the whole.”

Little drops of water make an ocean. Gaining knowledge is a gradual process of learning pieces of information that give the understanding of a whole. To learn a new skill it is important to start from the basics and gradually move towards the details and complexities. I agree that to begin with learning a skill a person must try to understand smaller segments or details which form the basis that help you understand the concept as a whole. However, I also maintain that it is important to understand the whole concept as a complete whole. The bits and pieces of information along can be of no use unless they are used to understand the larger picture.

The small segments and details of any subject can be looked upon as the building blocks of the subject. These building blocks act as the foundation stone for the structure built over it. It is only with a proper understanding of these details that we can have the understanding of the subject as a whole. On the other hand, if you begin to try and understand the larger part of the subject without learning the basics, you are bound to get confused. For example, when we learn a language, we begin by learning alphabets and their sounds, words, sentence formation, grammar etc. It is only after learning such things that we are able to speak, read as well as write the language. On the other hand, if you attempt to read the literature of a new language you are bound to find yourself in a pool.

On the other hand, as I have mentioned earlier, it is important that the concept is studied in totality. The details and pieces of information that lead to the concept make it meaningful. However, if you leave it on just studying these small pieces of information it will be of no use. The small pieces of information hold their importance only if they are used to construct and understand the concept. For example, if a cobbler learns the ways of cutting leather, stitching different pieces, polishing the leather etc., he must also learn to use his skills to make shoes. If he does not learn to make shoes, then learning how to cut leather is of no use to him. Therefore, his efforts of learning how to stitch the pieces of leather together is of use only if he is able to turn them into beautiful shoes. It is clear that it is the final result that matters. However, we cannot negate that fact that the final result is reached only after mastering the small details and precisions required.

When we look at a painting, we look at the whole scene depicted in it together in one look. It is the final result that is in front of us which can be comprehended and understood. On the other hand, if you look at an incomplete painting, you will not be able to make any head or tail of it. However, if you have to learn the art of painting, you must first start by understanding the strokes of a brush and colour schemes. Therefore, according to me, it is the end result that is important and useful. However, in the pursuit of mastering the skills required to reach the result it is the small details that should be learnt and practiced.