Friday, August 1, 2014

Taking Notes

Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11 NAS)

Taking Notes
Note taking is a habit I have acquired over time. When I was a student, I took notes during class, and I still do the same today. I jot down on paper my thoughts and the things I read during morning devotion every day. It helps me better internalize what I have learned from the word of God.

Over the years, note taking has seen a dramatic shift from the use of pen and paper to the use of keyboard, keypad or the stylus pen on e-paper via applications for electronic devices. While for many people, taking notes on a laptop is faster and more legible than writing with a pen, U.S. psychological researchers have found that electronic note taking methods could be harmful to academic performance as it encourages ‘mindless transcription.’ Students putting pen to paper, on the other hand, displayed a better grasp of concepts they had just learned and retained more understanding in the long run, according to an article of February 5, 2014 by Sarah Griffiths at

The researchers, Dr. Pam Mueller of Princeton University and Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA, observed that students using laptops were more likely to take more notes than those using a pen. Students using the old fashioned way took fewer notes with less verbatim recording, but remembered more facts and understood more concepts from the lecture. Findings from the study suggest that taking notes with a pen rather than a laptop leads to higher quality learning and is a better strategy for storing and internalizing ideas in the long-term.

Using electronic devices or a laptop to take notes is of course absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, in many cases, doing so might be helpful because of its portability and availability wherever we go. Mindless transcription or taking notes without understanding, however, is a different story. If we fail to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit, the speaker, our pastor, or lecturer is saying at a particular point of time, no amount of note taking will help us when we attempt to understand it later. 

Are we too busy transcribing notes on our electronic devices that we fail to pay attention to what we have heard or read? Are we finding ourselves helpless without our digital gadgets to remind us what we need to learn or understand? Are we writing down our thoughts and what we have read from God’s word every day?

The Bible exhorts us to treasure God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin. A good way to do that is to begin reading God’s word daily. Start today, if we have not already done so, and write down on paper our thoughts the things we read during our quiet time with God. Doing this will help us better grasp God’s word and retain greater understanding in the long run as we internalize what we have learned.  

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the tools to write down our thoughts and what we have learned from Your word, so we might better retain our understanding. Help us internalize Your precepts and teachings in our daily living to pay closer attention to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit and not carelessly let any learning or opportunity pass us by. Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and we delight to meditate and dwell in the understanding of Your word.

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