Intelligence is different from knowledge
Intelligence is partly heritable, but there are ways to improve it in a general capacity. The best way to improve your working memory is to simply learn a lot. Learning creates chunks, which allows you to deal with more complex ideas.
The downside of learning is that it tends to be narrow, while intelligence is general.
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Any subject can be learned with some practice and patience. Some subjects may appear harder because of the speed at which they are taught.
To fix this problem, you may need to put in more work. If you can't see everything at once, it just means you need to practice more of the pieces, so your mind does not have to juggle so many ideas simultaneously.
Because we can increase our working memory within a subject, we can create new chunks and master very complicated ideas. The perceived difficulty is often the way subjects are taught. Only the smarter students will remain, the higher you go in maths or science. This leads teachers to skip over "trivial" steps, leading you feeling like you can't master it.
Solutions are for teachers to slow down the class or for the student to slow down the class using, for example, the Feynman Technique.
Intelligence is likely associated with a better generalised working memory.
A working memory is the ability to hold multiple ideas in your head at the same time. Those who are smarter have a bigger capacity to hold multiple ideas.
Some subjects feel like they require more intelligence. If understanding an idea requires you to take different ideas into account, it may be more challenging to keep track with a lower working memory. e.g. mathematical proofs.
Conversely, if a subject requires a large volume of memory, but each fact or idea is separate, it may require lots of practice and less working memory. E.g. history or law.
Richard Feynman understood the difference between:
He created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.
In order to learn, we need to sleep
Learning is hard and takes effort on a personal level. It requires attention and physical energy.
• When you start learning, you need to pay careful attention to bring that information into your short-term memory. Lack of sleep can make it difficult to pay attention to. Even memory champions can only hold 5-7 pieces of information at a time.
• When you sleep, short-term memories are moved to a different region in the brain for long-term storage. Your brain then consolidates the information and select what information to forget.
Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.
Understanding what is learning and how our memory works will help you understand why certain techniques work and how to use and adapt the techniques to your advantage.
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