Learn to learn :: assessement essay

Two bosses talking:
— Why should I invest in employee learning? What if they then leave?
— Well, think about what will happen if you DON’T teach them and they will stay!

Did we learned something recently?
If we learned consequently that is rather good. One can say that if we are learning — we are better than 80% of our colleagues.
But if we are learning — what are the chances that we are doing it properly?
Unfortunately nobody taught us neither in college nor in university — how to learn properly.

Not for nothing Mark Twain said: «I’ve never let my school interfere with my education»


What confuse us our learning process:
  • Inability to concentrate?
  • Strong desire to obtain as much information as possible supposing that it could be in any case adopted by our brain?
  • Inability to divide up (chunk) and deeply understand  that information?
  • Attempt to memorize information from a single trial with multiple repeats instead of time-spaced repeats?

Do we know about illusions of competence?
  • Just looking at the simplest examples and not trying to solve it with the feeling that you already know how to solve. And not even trying to solve harder examples. «Man advancing by the challenges and hardships». But are we ready to face these challenges and hardships?
  • To highlight the main ideas on every page of a book and think that these ideas go directly  to our brain?
  • The feel that all information that you need is always on hand and so we shouldn’t memorize it. There is Wikipedia, yes!

Learning How To Learn on Coursera is aimed to overcome these and other difficulties with leanring.
I studied that course and wish to highlight some aspects which I see as the most important and useful for me. And of course, I am not unique and I think that these aspects could be useful for my blog readers.

Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is useful for concentration in work, for attention focusing, for working in the flow mode, for overcoming procrastination (which we should understand as a kind of a dopamine addiction).

This technique is widely known. We just should take it and use it.
To build a stable neuron network the interlacing of focused thinking (during the pomodoro) and diffuse thinking (when we are resting) is rather useful.
 I can add some homemade advice:
  • During the pomodoro you should put on earphones and listen to «study music» or various noises.
  • A good android application which allows to the set lenth of pomodoro, the break length, and also to «level» yourself with the quantity of succsessfully finished pomodoros 
  • When you are at home it is exciting to use your old LP player as a pomodoro timer. In any case every 20 minutes you need to turn over the disc. Or you will hear awful noises.
  • If you wear glasses — take them off during the break — so that you don’t focus your attention on anything
  • You should start with «frog»-type tasks. Ugly and jumping from you day by day. Though my wife advises to start with some easy and pleasurable task just to warm-up the mind. But of course it is an individual effect =) . In any case you should just monitor your condition and performance.

The Habits
Some habits interfere with work and studying processes:
  • For example to jump pn a Facebook constantly
  • To start watching TV or youtube when we feel that we are tired
  • To always take the easiest task
  • To react on any input (mail, sms, notification) immediately
Good new for us — we can change our habits. How? Just as Pavlov did with his dog. To encourage good habits. Ergo — we should invent our own motivation system. And this is not as easy as one may think.
Look — you will not eat a cupcake of drink coffee after any pomodoro? Choose your own motivators: for example to kiss your daughter after any pomodoro and to give yourself a good walk or yoga session in the evening.
I think that the motivation system could change your own system of values.
pavlov
But we cannot train good habits in a day or two. We cannot deeply learn new concepts in a short time period. What we need is a course. The flow of incoming data should be structured and divided into bits which we could learn during the year.
What about me — I am going to make a list (or plan) of new practices and concepts to learn in 2015. And this plan wouldn’t contain more than 35-40 items.

What I could advise doing next

  • To install the Pomodoro application on your smartphone
  • To make the self-observation journal and put into it your successes and fails in building your work and education process
  • To find your bad habits in the areas of work, rest and learning
  • To invent your motivation system
  • To learn memorizing techniques such as ANKI cards (for example ankisrs.net)

I am sincerely grateful to my friend James Grave for his kind consent to the editing of the translation into English of my original post

Images courtsey: http://designinspiration.com/


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