Recently I got more interested in learning. In particular, learning how to learn. I’d like to share a few tips here that I thought would be beneficial to all of us as we become life long learners. A few important things I want to point out from my self assessment.
1) Information gaps. While trying to learn something a second time, I noticed that there were things I thought I had learned but in fact I had not. Your brain easily confuses thinking you’ve learned something versus actually having understood it. Also, your brain massively simplifies things.
2) Self-correction. The best way to learn is to first learn how to evaluate yourself in that particular topic. Learning to self correct enables you to quickly identify whether something makes sense or not so that you can adjust and iterate. This is the same as having a teacher who can help point out things that are wrong and areas for correction. The ability to self correct accelerates this behavior even more quickly.
3) Motivation. Learning is fun when you start to understand the materials. It’s hard to truly appreciate a subject if you can’t put it in practice, so iterating quickly and understanding why something is important helps you stay motivated.
So here are a few tips for learning:
1) Don’t be a “yes” person. Be a “why not” person. If you are exposed to a material, and all you do is nod at it thinking you’ve understood it, it is likely that you are missing some key points. Instead, pause at the points where it’s seems most obvious and challenge the conclusion that’s derived. When you’ve arrived to the same point, then it should make more sense.
2) Visualize what you’ve learned. At each point of your learning stage, create a visual story in your mind. Visualization creates more neuron connections that helps you remember things more vividly.
3) To test yourself, try this. Choose a topic you have always wanted to learn through reading or video. Go ahead and read or watch it. After thinking you’ve learned it, try to summarize 3 key points from the materials you’ve just watched or read. If you are unable to do it, watch or read again, and then summarize those 3 key points. Afterwards, break those 3 points up into 3 sub-points and see if you could come up with the reasons why you thought those 3 points were most important. It’s critical that you don’t use the materials when you are doing the summarization and also coming up with the reasons why they are important. This forces your brain to synthesize. When you are done, then you can go back to the materials to validate.
Here’s a few youtube videos you can watch, and also further reading.
This is a TED talk on using visualization to help you remember important things. Think of it as storing memory in multiple locations in your brain, and thus making it easier to recover information.
Another TED talk on utilizing the first 20 hours to get to an inflection point in learning something. This won’t get you to the expert level, but it could start a cycle where you could self teach yourself.
What do you do next? Obviously try to summarize this article to identify the 3 key points. Share this forward if you find it helpful.
Additional reading. Time management tips articles.
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