I was inspired to write this after I saw a blog on the same topic.
When I was in 4th class I once scored poorly in a test. I think it was English. I didn't talk about it to my parents with the fear of being scolded. When I finally revealed, I also blurted out why this delay. On this my father didn't react with anger. He merely said that I shouldn't make such a big deal of the score I get in a subject. It's important to understand the subject. Scores fall in line automatically.
The gratification of not being reprimanded and the joy of getting a new perspective had a permanent effect on me. It appeared intuitive to me to see that trying to understand a subject in the same way as the author himself was necessary aspect of actually understanding anything. I started reading things with the end goal in mind of day-dreaming that I was the originator of the work. It needed deep understanding. I got into the mode of asking repeatedly: 'Is there anything I have not understood? Is there anything I seem to be taken for granted?' This day-dreaming style of learning things opened to me joys of learning which are non-existent to rot-learners.
Learning to understand revealed to me why becoming a scientist is such a cool thing. I could see that it's not about being (or proving oneself to be) intelligent. It's about understanding something clearly, asking the right questions till the point where I and the creator of that knowledge are one in our understanding of the topic.