An interesting, quote from Ayn Rand:
To understand means to focus on the content of a given subject (as against the sensory—visual or auditory—form in which it is communicated), to isolate its essentials, to establish its relationship to the previously known, and to integrate it with the appropriate categories of other subjects. Integration is the essential part of understanding.
The predominance of memorizing is proper only in the first few years of a child’s education, while he is observing and gathering perceptual material. From the time he reaches the conceptual level (i.e., from the time he learns to speak), his education requires a progressively larger scale of understanding and progressively smaller amounts of memorizing.
So, to understand, we need to do three things:
1. identify numerous characteristics of a thing, and find the characteristic(s) that causes most of the others;
2. identify how the item of knowledge is related back to the evidence of the senses, that is, identify the basic train of reasoning that takes you back to the evidence of the senses;
3. identify connections of the item of knowledge with items in other areas of knowledge.
Notice that, sadly, modern education — as does any education based on the philosophy of Plato or Immanuel Kant — fails in all three characteristics.
For the love of logic, for the love of life, for the love of those we love, we need to start change in our culture by demanding these three characteristics of understanding be taught in education and trained into our children.