Certain dishes need to be cooked covered, others – uncovered. For example, water comes to a boil faster if you keep the pot covered The lid prevents the heat from escaping, and you get the condensation effect so the steam returns back to the pot as water. But if you want the flavors of a dish to intensify, you let it simmer without a lid so that extra liquid could evaporate. How does it relate to the study of law? Learning has two similar phases.
The beginning phase, when you learn something for the first time, resembles cooking with a lid on. You try to get as much information as possible about the subject matter. You don’t let anything escape you. You may not know yet what’s important to remember and what you can let go of. You keep circulating information through your brain to find the most natural links and connections. This is a stage when you want to ask lots of questions, create hypothetical “what-if” scenarios and see where they take you.
When the second phase comes, you take the lid off. You know enough to figure out what you need to keep and what you can let evaporate from your memory. Just like the flavors blend together and intensify, your knowledge becomes more concrete and integrated. You see the big picture, but you can also identify the individual ingredients. You reduce all that you have learned to its essence.
How do you know when to move from the first phase to the second? When you keep coming across the same information over and over again even if you try to find something new. It’s just like the condensation loop: the water comes back into the pot. It’s a good sign that you have covered it all (no pun intended). By the way, these two phases also apply to research.