Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hacking the learning process

What does a plank on top of two wooden sticks 1 cm from the edge have in common with :
"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course , after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics."  ?

Keep thinking about it when you continue reading further.

When you visit this blog I can imagine you want to learn something new.
So let's learn something about learning. In fact when you have something specific you want to learn , you can follow along even better.

Imagine you have an test or examine tomorrow of what you will learn today.
How will you try to memorise what you know ? Will you try to repeat it over and  over ?
I can ensure you that that only will work in very limited cases.

You remember much more when we process the information again.
In other words, rework the information. Use the information you have in new ways.
Put in new context , a new scenario and see how that information helps you there.

Only when we are active with the new information do we attain the most.
So have fun and play with it.

Now that you now how to attain more let's boost it just a bit further.
When we can think of a specific situation this information can be used and imagine going trough that scenario it is much more likely to be remembered because now it has a practical application.

The reason why we can't remember names that well is because they have no link with what that person does and how to deal with that person. When you know what that persons job is, like for instance a baker, you link the name to the job and it comes easier to remember because you can see in your mind what that entails in general. It's the images in our mind that are of importance for remembering and not so much the words itself.

So think back to what you want to learn and come up with a specific context and situation to use it in. Imagine what you would, see, hear and feel. Imagine the possible consequences and result of that.

If nothing comes to mind, don't worry just continue.

Take on a new role when reviewing what you want to learn. When you learn it as a student , how would you teach somebody else about this? Switch roles.

Find new point s of view to talk about it and think about it.
Indeed, you will memorise it much better when you share the information with others. Talk about it.
When there is nobody to talk about it, imagine talking to people.

We remember better when we have to teach it to others also. Even when there is nobody to teach, imagine teaching other people.

Now repeating the information will be much more effective. How many times should we review the information if we want to remember it? The optimal way is:

Shortly after learning it.
one day after you learned it.
One week after you learned it.
one month after you learned it.
3 - 6 moths after you learned it.

You will have noticed that it can take a while sometimes to learn the skills you want.

People often praise having a lot of willpower but willpower is not really reliable at all.
Habits on the other  hand require almost no effort at all. We are all creatures of habit.

When there is that much to practise that you can't see the trees trough the forest, it is easy to understand why some people would give up on it. Honestly, we all would consider just stopping to learn if you couldn't see the end of it and even couldn't see where to begin.

So when you don't know where to start, just start anywhere you want. Tinker along the way.

Practice just 1 thing at a time for a week or month on a regular interval.
Look in how many ways you can do that one thing and variate the scenarios and context as much as you can.

Well, it  seems like this the exit and the end of this blog post.
Maybe you learned how to think in different ways now.
Maybe you have a bridge to more understanding at this moment.

So , you begin to understand what the answer to that first question was.
If not, just take a break and eat some pie. You have learned much anyways.