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Why Most Self-Education Efforts Fail

The struggle to learn new things

The struggle to learn new things

We tend to learn only the things we were already good at. This creates little bubbles of confidence where we learn, and vast areas we avoid because we’re not sure we can get good at them.

You see this with people who claim they’re “bad at math” or don’t have the “language gene”.

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Why Most Self-Education Efforts Fail

Why Most Self-Education Efforts Fail

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/03/24/self-education-hard/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

The struggle to learn new things

We tend to learn only the things we were already good at. This creates little bubbles of confidence where we learn, and vast areas we avoid because we’re not sure we can get good at them.

You see this with people who claim they’re “bad at math” or don’t have the “language gene”.

Begin with the use in mind

The first step to learning well is always to ask yourself “why am I learning this?”, because the most effective way to learn is highly dependent on the eventual situation when you will use that information. 

Understand before memorizing

Learning, is much faster when you work with precision over brute force. You’ll remember much more if, instead of trying to memorize, you first seek to understand. Once you “get” something, the act of memorizing it becomes much, much faster.

Everything can be learned

No matter how complicated it seems, everything breaks down into components which are simple enough everyone could learn them. Learning well involves spotting how those systems break down, so you can always start with pieces that are small enough to handle. 

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Single & Double Loop Learning

The first time we aim for a goal, follow a rule or make a decision, we are engaging in single loop learning. 
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How Success Becomes an Impediment

Many skilled people excel at single loop learning where they become accustomed only to success. 

They aren’t used to failing, so they struggle to learn from their mistakes and often respond by blaming someone else.

“their ability to learn shuts down precisely at the moment they need it the most.”

The Key to Double Loop Learning
Push the single loop to the point of failure, to strengthen how you act in the double loop.
  • Stop getting defensive. Instead, collect and analyze relevant data, draw conclusions and test  them.
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  • Fail early. Fail fast. If you learn to deal with failure you can have a worthwhile career.

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Meta-Learning

It's knowing how to learn. Learning itself is a skill, and knowing how to do it well is an incredibly valuable advantage.

Merely acquiring information is not learning....

Learning has 2 phases

Learning is a two-step process:

  • Read/listen: feeding ourselves new information.
  • Process and recall what you’ve just ‘learned’: connecting new materials to what we already knew.
Remembering the right things

You should not waste your time by committing unimportant details to memory. 

Your focus should be on understanding the bigger picture, on how things relate to each other.

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