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How to Build Skills That Matter

Applying the knowledge

Make sure your learning project involves something you do or not just something you learn.

  • Don’t just learn a new language, aim to have conversations with people.
  • Don’t just read a book on JavaScript, build a functioning website.
  • Don’t just watch lectures, do practice problems from the exam.

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How to Build Skills That Matter

How to Build Skills That Matter

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/04/01/skills-that-matter/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

Scott H Young

Scott H Young

"In times of difficulty, you want your efforts to matter. Not just to pass the time, but to build something that endures."

The illusion of transfer

Transfer is the ability to apply and use what you learn.

Research showed several times the fact that much of what we set out to learn doesn’t actually transfer to the situations we need it. This applies to school, but also to your own learning efforts.

Applying the knowledge

Make sure your learning project involves something you do or not just something you learn.

  • Don’t just learn a new language, aim to have conversations with people.
  • Don’t just read a book on JavaScript, build a functioning website.
  • Don’t just watch lectures, do practice problems from the exam.

Designing your learning project

  • Don't focus on an ambitious goal. Yes, it could inspire you, but it could also frustrate you.
  • Pick your quitting time in advance. Committing to an indefinite timetable means you’ll give up as soon as things get tough.
  • Regardless of how much reading is required, give priority to the practice you intend to do.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Practice loops

Practice loops are useful as a concept to think about learning any skill. A practice loop is an activity or group of activities you repeat over and over again while learning somet...

Loops and drills

Many loops aren’t straightforward repetitions. You may never write the same essay twice. The loop isn't writing a particular essay, but the overall process for writing essays.

In the same way, each thing you learn may have more than one loop. Drills are smaller loops to focus on smaller parts of the bigger loop.

Designing Your Practice Loop

Step one involves figuring out what your loops are. These are the activities you repeat over and over when learning something.

Next, analyze the loop for different parts to see whether you can make improvements. It will result in faster learning.

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Ditch Your Learning Style

Learning styles (visual, auditory etc.) have actually little impact on our ability to learn.

The best way to learn depends on what you’re trying to learn in the first place. The ...

Find Meaning In Learning

If you try to force yourself to just memorize random facts, you’re likely to forget them. 

We will most likely remember only the information that was meaningful to us, that we’ve been able to connect to our lives and our experiences.

Learn by Doing

We learn best when we perform the tasks we’re trying to learn. 

No matter how good your grades were at college, most of your learning takes place once you enter the workplace and start applying what you've learned.

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When to Study
When to Study

Studying time is more efficient if it is spread out over many sessions throughout the semester, with a little extra right before the exam.

Cover each piece of info five times from when you fi...

What and How to Study

Testing yourself, so you have to retrieve the information from memory, works much better than repeatedly reviewing the information, or creating a concept map (mind map).

After the first time learning the material, spend the subsequent studying to recalling the information, solving a problem or explaining the idea without glancing at the source.

What Kinds of Practice to Do
For a particular exam, use the following:
  • Mock tests and exams that are identical in style and form.
  • Redo problems from assignments, textbook questions or quizzes.
  • Generate your own questions or writing prompts based on the material.

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Long-term flexible commitment

What many people fail at with long-term commitments is that they make their initial vision too rigid.

Flexible commitment can help overcome this by bringing together two pr...

Walk the Winding Path
  1. Stick to short commitments. Get good at this skill before going further.
  2. Understand your goal at different levels. The highest goal should be fairly abstract.
  3. Set a much more specific agenda of how I could fulfill this.
  4. Have periodic reviews where you can change your direction and incorporate new ideas. 
  5. Don't let your reviews interfere with the short-term process of committing.
The winding path: Goals and projects
Imagine your ambitions on two levels:
  1. A goal level, which is big-picture and abstract. It has just enough detail to inspire, but not so much that you're stuck pursuing things that don’t matter when conditions change. 
  2. Underneath that, have projects: these tend to be short-to-medium term efforts you think will help realize the larger goal.

The flexibility of the system comes once one leg of a short-term commitment has ended. This provides an opportunity for pivoting and redirecting.

Self Reliance

If you’re waiting for someone to give you the right training to change your job or do something radically different in life you will wait forever. 

It’s up to you to train yourself. I...

Learning to Learn

Learning is not a rigidly formal system of precisely labeled steps.

Learning is messy. It’s trial and error. It’s failing and then failing again and then slowly figuring it out.

Give Up Magical Beliefs

You can’t borrow someone’s motivation. No matter how many books you read or chants you do you won’t become more motivated.

Motivation comes from inside. It comes from you and nowhere else.

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Perfectionism and to-do lists

To-do lists can help perfectionists move past our paralysis. They may find making a list to be a reassuring guide to their day.

But there's also a risk: to-do lists can backfire i...

Break down projects

 ... into manageable tasks. 

This way, you're armed with a set of concrete actions to take rather a vague cloud of high expectations.

Define the next action

... rather than all subsequent steps.

Focusing only on the next action gives you permission to work on something even if you don’t have it all figured out—which is crucial to completing tasks that in the past have left you paralyzed.

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MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses)

A recent study suggests that MOOCs do not disrupt world-class education as initially thought, nor are they accessible to the entire world.

  • Online learners are concentra...
Self-learners
  • Teaching yourself anything can be draining and quite a lonely process.
  • When you care about what you are learning, it can lift your spirits and makes you more confident.
  • Having a few peers can make it a whole lot easier.

If you have a long-term system that you regularly practice you can increase your odds for success.

Find a reason

Don't just learn something for the sake of it or because you're excited about the idea of loving X. You may find yourself unable to sustain your energy and stop midway, or you may be doing an endless series of courses without actually putting them to any use.

  • Consciously find reasons that learning X is the absolute best possible use of your time right now.
  • Ask what makes you excited about X.
  • Hang around an online community of people who love X and go down the rabbit hole.

If you make sure that you really desire to learn X, it will no longer remain a task, but become an adventure. You will hunger after knowledge and have the energy to find answers to your questions.

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Common patterns to the problem of motivation
Common patterns to the problem of motivation

There are three common patterns to the problem of motivation:

  • Drive: You don't have a strong enough desire to learn.
  • Anxiety: You have...
Having a weak drive to learn

Without a drive to learn, it's hard to get going. Weak drives include expectations from family, teachers, or employers. It's the things you have to do, but don't want to do.

You can change this, but you need an inspiring goal to get you started. If your project doesn't excite you, no advice will help.

Problems of anxiety when learning something

Sometimes you are excited to learn, but you still avoid getting started. You may worry about the fear of failure, feedback, or performing. If you expose yourself to the thing you find unpleasant and nothing bad happens, your fear will lessen.

Reframing is often helpful in overcoming this problem. Begin each studying session with the idea that you will find it hard.

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"In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enoug..."

Heidi Grant Halvorson
Check your readiness

Learning a new skill takes commitment. And there are certain limits to what you can learn. So, before starting working on a new skill, ask yourself:

  • If your goal really is attainable
  • How much time and energy you can give to this process.
Make sure it’s needed

Make sure the skills you've chosen are relevant to your career, your organization, or both. 

Gaining a new skill is an investment and you need to know upfront what the return will be.

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Community Engagement Cycle
Community Engagement Cycle

In contrast to existing communities, new ones lack a social identity, an established way of participation and assurances of reward or value. These are the foundation of the Community Engagem...

Why People Sign Up To A Community
  1. The community aligns with their identity.
  2. They trust that the community will bring them value.
  3. They know how to participate.
  4. There is a reward (intrinsic or extrinsic) for their participation.
Build the Foundation of Community
  1. Form the a community’s Identity: Carefully choose 10 potential members who fit the community identity you envision. They’ll set the standard of quality and the tone for everyone else.
  2. Earn Trust: The members can’t trust a community that doesn’t yet exist, but they can trust you. Connect with them, bring them value and ask for feedback.
  3. Fuel Participation: Start to build trust between the members. Their trust in you will translate to trust in each other, and in the group as a whole.
  4. Reward: Ask if the experience was valuable and if members felt rewarded for their participation. This gives them extra validation and lets you know what to fix if you need to retry.
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4: Invite new members and give existing members the opportunity to invite someone new. As the base of the group begins to settle it creates a sense of belonging and makes people more likely to invite others who will fit the group.

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