How to study (1917) by George Fillmore Swain PDF book

How to study?

How to study
How to study 


This short book illustrates easy ways for students to study and never forget what they have studied, the book was published in 1917 by George Fillmore Swain, who was a civil engineer from the United States. He was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later at Harvard University.

Excerpt from the author's introduction

The present paper has been suggested by a long experience in teaching, in which the writer has been continually surprised at the ignorance manifested by students in the higher classes of our technical schools and universities, or graduates from such schools, with reference to proper methods of study. If his experience is a reliable guide, a large majority of the graduates from such schools, as well as some teachers in them, have not acquired proper habits and methods of study, and have devoted little or no attention to the consideration of the subject, vital though it is. It is undoubtedly true that training in the prop- er habits and methods of study should be inculcated by each individual teacher in the course of his work, and exemplified by the occurrences in his classroom. 

The individual teacher can do much in this direction, and indeed the writer may say that probably the most important part of his instruction during the past thirty-five years has been teaching his students how to study and how to think logically, by the constant reiteration of principles in the classroom and by making any failure on the part of a student the occasion for pointing out how such failure arose from improper methods of study or reasoning. 

Nevertheless, it has seemed to the writer desirable to formulate, in a brief but simple manner, certain fundamental principles which he has been in the habit of pointing out in the classroom, and that such a statement might perhaps be found useful with students of any grade as a set subject of study in itself, occupying one or more lessons. With this object in view, the present paper has been written, and it is hoped that it will prove useful to teachers as well as to students, suggest- ing to the former directions in which they may seek to discover defects in their students and in which they may urge improvement. 

Most students desire to learn but do not know-how. A student will frequently answer a question correctly, perhaps in the words of the book, but upon further probing the teacher will very likely find that he fails entirely to understand what he is talking about. The teacher should seek to discover if such is the case and should, if practicable, point out the cause of the trouble. The writer believes that if the students in our colleges will read this paper carefully and thoughtfully, and will endeavor to follow its precepts. they will derive some benefit. If such proves to be the case, and if this paper affords help in enabling students to save time and to study more understandingly, the aim of the writer will have been accomplished.

Some contents of the book :


Introduction 1
I. The Proper Mental Attitude 6
(a) Distinction between reading and understanding. . 8
(b) The distinction between facts, opinions, and logical conclusions 9
(c) Importance of the questioning habit 11
(d) Inquiring into methods of ascertaining facts ... 14
(e) Studying evidence of the reliability of a writer .... 15
(/) Importance of caution 18
(fit) Importance of the scientific attitude of mind ... 19
(h) Intellectual modesty 19
(i) Wisdom rather than knowledge the aim 21
II. Studying understandably  22
(a) Importance of definite ideas 24
(1) Use of the dictionary 25
(2) Practice in definition 27
(3) Importance of the study of logic 28
(6) Stating a thing in different ways 31
(c) Stating a thing negatively as well as positively . . 32
(d) Observation of necessary qualifying words or phrases 34

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