You have been learning for a long time (K12, grad school, Udemy, Skillshare and more) but are you learning the right way? Are your efforts of learning paying off? Do you feel stuck in the learning process? Are you able to confidently say you know something? Let's try and answer some of these questions.
Here is a neuro perspective of how to learn better in the way our brains are designed.
What is learning?
Learning is the process of fixing the gap between new and old knowledge. The gap is a great place to start. Knowing what is your status quo and knowing what you already know from the past gives the delta. Once the gap is identified and fed to our brains (as input) it will be able to process the learning goal better. Our brains are goal oriented meat machines. It is good to give them finish lines and more aspirations.
How is our brain designed?
By design our brain is a processing organ and is not a storage organ. It is there is produce ideas and not procure them. It gets excited when you produce ideas. It gets stressed when you try and make it do something else that it is not meant to (like storage). So the intelligent way to use it is to produce and process ideas.
Our school systems focused more on storage aspects of our brain and not on the processing aspects. This left most of us with a wrong mental model of learning. We associate learning more with memory. Our success metrics (examinations) was also around how much we could retrieve better.
With this mental model it is hard to survive as a knowledge worker because retrieval is done better by search engines than our brains.
What the search engine cannot do is connect the seemingly unrelated dots and make meaning out of that. That is what our brains are supposed to do and are good at doing.
Now putting together the learning process and how the system is designed, it is clear that minding the gap and bringing in new dots to connect is what we should be focusing on in the learning process.
To do this here is a simple but effective formula to use your brain at its best.
Think a lot. Do a little .Reflect a ton
3:1:4 is the ratio for your thinking, doing and reflecting.
- Think a lot (because it is time efficient but energy inefficient)
- Do a little (because it is time inefficient but energy efficient).
- Reflect a ton both thinking and doing (because is both time and energy efficient). Your bulk of learning happens here and not actually in thinking and doing.