When studyiing chess, an important element is not only the material you choose to study – whether it be a chess book, video, or software – but your level of engagement with the material. We can categorize learning (in general) into two types – active and passive learning. Although there is some debate around this (which I won’t delve too much into), in general active learning is favored for knowledge retention and application.
Passive learning is generally what you do when you watch a chess video or listen to a lecture. I also think passive learning occurs when you blindly follow chess engine analysis (and some may not consider this learning at all). You are “receiving” the instruction from a source.
Active learning by contrast is as it sounds – the student is engaging with the material. This could include activities such as solving tactical problems, doing Solitaire Chess, or analyzing your chess games (without assistance). You are a participant in the creation of the learning process.
Although I think there is a place for passive learning – for example, with beginners who know nothing of chess or when learning a totally new opening – we should try to make our training and study more active.
In the following video, I discuss three techniques you can use to be more actively engaged with the chess videos your watch.
Try these methods out next time you watch a chess video!