Active versus Passive Learning

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!

Bryan Castro

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About Bryan Castro

Bryan Castro is a businessman and writer from Buffalo, NY. When he's not spending time with his family or working, he can be found playing chess or practicing martial arts. He combines his interests of personal development and chess on his site Better Chess Training (