Learning rate and limits to learning - Deepstash
The Competence Trap (and Why it Keeps You From Trying New Things)

The Competence Trap (and Why it Keeps You From Trying New Things)

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Learning rate and limits to learning

Learning rate and limits to learning

Some people take longer to develop the relevant building-block insights to progress in deep subjects like math. The ability to acquire understanding may vary from person to person.

It is highly unlikely that less intelligent people have a limit to deep subjects. The obstacle to learning advanced mathematics is that it may take you longer than a very smart person.

The learning barrier

An explanation for learning difficulty is that our motivation, moods, and interest play a large role in how difficult it is to keep learning math.

We have a psychological need for autonomy (doing maths because you want to), competence (you feel capable), and relatedness (your teacher or peers may praise you). Any behaviors that worsen these needs will demotivate you to learn.

The narrowing of interests

Our modern society is the product of specialization. Albert Einstein may have been less able to come up with general relativity if he also had to grow his own food and sew his own clothes. Perhaps time constraints would have prevented him from reaching the depths of thinking required. If we enjoy one thing above another, there isn't a problem.

We can also enjoy learning lots of other things that may be more satisfying and interesting than narrow specialization.

Learning engagement and the need for rewards

The better we get at some things, the more we want to do it. Conversely, the worse we fare in other domains, the less we want to work at it.

If we see our engagement as a way of getting rewards (money, respect, achievement, or just fun) for the time we invest, it can create a trap. The better you get at some things, the narrower your set of interests and hobbies may become.

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