How to improve your learning in 4 steps

We are creatures of habit and one of the most common habit is to pack things up. I’m not talking about bags or boxes… Just take a look around your room and find the chair. That one. The one which takes all you dirty clothes into a spectacular Tower of Pisa.

So, if we’re used to pack things, would be alright to think that we could also pack knowledge? Luckily, yes. But instead of the famous chair, let’s call it a chunk.

When you’re eating, you’re not aware of every step that you make. You don’t consciously think to open your mouth, carry the food, chew it and swallow it. You just do the process naturally. This is your file. Remembering things on groups (chunks) simplifies your life and leaves you more space to do another things without thinking on well known basic processes.

Some chunks are built in our system by default but some aren’t. What if you want to learn how to play the piano? How do all those highly talented musicians play long songs without looking at any guides? They .zip, a lot.

The Top 4 Techniques

In a previuos post I talked about an awesome course that changed my life. That course was mostly taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley and these are the Top 4 techniques she recommends to build a chunk:

 1. Focused attention

It is utterly important to understand the subject your learning. You won’t be able to form a solid chunk unless you really know the material. Take your time, use analogies, and read it a few times, always looking for understanding.

2. Recall and minitesting

It’s not memorization, period. Recall implies that you can write whatever you remember because you’ve understood it, not because you’ve memorized it. This may not take you more than 30 seconds. Minitesting is about testing yourself about what you’ve learned. Try it in different enviroments from where you first learned the material, this simple technique may save you from a bad time.

 3. Interleave

Multitasking is not a good idea if you want to keep your brain healthy. Instead of that, leave momentarily what you’re doing and do something else for a short time. Then, get back to your material. This may give you a fresh air and a different perspective of what you were doing wrong. It also helps you to think faster and better.

4. Transfer

Like interleaving, transfer is to apply the concepts of a certain subject’s chunk into another. It is quite like doing analogies. If some chunk works for a subject, maybe it will work for a similiar one. Just try it!

Finally, don’t forget to take proper breaks when you’re studying or working. I’ll dare to say this is more important than a lot of the above statements, though it doesn’t work without them!




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