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Teach Yourself Anything with the Sandbox Method

Dr. Seuss

It is better to know how to learn than to know.

Dr. Seuss

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Teach Yourself Anything with the Sandbox Method

Teach Yourself Anything with the Sandbox Method

https://medium.com/the-mission/self-education-teach-yourself-anything-with-the-sandbox-method-a4edfc5e1f8e

medium.com

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Key Ideas

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss

It is better to know how to learn than to know.

False Beliefs About Self-Education

Despite having easy access to information, few people take full advantage of the opportunity we have for self-directed learning.

We still believe that in order to learn something, we need to be formally educated on it, when in fact we're able to educate ourselves.

Self-Education In The 21st Century

Self-education is the core skill for the 21st century.

Our ability to respond to changes in the landscape of work and technology will be dictated by how skilled self-educators we are, how well we can take full advantage of the information available to us to grow our skillset.

Learning In The Real World

For 12 years, you’re been trained to apply information that’s pre-packaged for you.

But if you want to do anything independent (entrepreneurship, creative work, etc.) then you have to be able to figure things out without being handed the knowledge beforehand.

The Sandbox Method for Self-Education

This is an ongoing process of self-development and learning, that recognizes that we don’t need to memorize facts, formulas, instead, we need to develop an intuitive understanding of our skills, expose ourselves to different information about the skill, and constantly push ourselves to improve.

Steps of the Sandbox Method

  1. Build an area where you can freely play around with the skill you’re trying to learn - Your Sandbox. It should be: low-cost or free, low stakes and public.
  2. Research: Resources exist, you just have to figure out what’s worth reading, watching, or listening to (books, blogs, MOOCs etc).
  3. Implement and practice purposefully.
  4. Get feedback.

What Practicing the Sandbox Method Means

  • Honestly assessing your limits to figure out where you need to improve.
  • Setting a goal just beyond your current ability to motivate yourself to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
  • Practicing with intense focus.
  • Getting feedback, in whatever way you can, and incorporate that feedback into your practice.

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Don't reinvent the wheel

Mimic and get help from someone who’s already learned it to get tips and save time.

In order to achieve mastery faster, our first step should be to consult the top players in the field and model the path they have already carved out for us.

Deconstruct the skill

...into its basic, fundamental components, to find the most important things to practice first. This shows that very few things actually make a difference in any aspect of our lives, including learning.

Use the Pareto Principle: which describes a goal of generating 80 percent of results by putting in 20 percent of the effort.

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Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

Take notes by hand

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Chunk your study sessions

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

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Divergent Thinking

Is the ability to generate many ideas or solutions from a single idea or piece of information. 

It’s thought to be one of, if not the most, important factor in creativity.

Convergent Thinking

Is the ability to take many pieces of information or data and generate one solution. 

It is largely taught and encouraged in schools and workplaces.

Exercising Divergent Thinking
  1. The Many Uses Exercise: Pick an ordinary object, set a timer for 5 minutes and try to come up with as many alternative uses for a paperclip as you can.
  2. 10 New Ideas: Every day for a week, try to come up with 10 new ideas within a specific topic or category.
  3. Daily Headlines: Imagine that your day was a news story in the New York Times. What would the headline be? 
  4. Articles on Trial: Challenge the conclusion of articles you read by coming up with one question you’d like to ask the author.
  5. Start to notice your automatic thoughts and generate alternatives to them.