Leren Leren: Do we need to learn how to learn?
Study harder! Write it out 100 times! Repetition is key! How do we learn how to learn things?
When a topic comes up from three different and unrelated sources, it’s time to take a look and see what message is obviously trying to get through. The kicker was when I put in my earbuds to listen to the Tim Ferriss show and, low and behold, he’s talking about learning to learn.
“Leren leren” is Dutch for Learn to Lean, which I heard at my son’s school. Now’s not a bad time to learn how to learn or at least improve your learning techniques.
I want to help my kids learn how to learn so that they will know how to learn, well, anything. Are there ways to learn that are better than others? Or is it on a case-by-case basis? Someone learns better visually, someone else through repetition and finally someone learns better through some obscure method that no one has ever heard of.
If you really want to learn something, teach it.
I’ve found that if you have to explain something to someone, you’re going to learn it. Even if you don’t know the subject so well, you’ll have to have a grasp of the subject well enough to help someone else understand. To explain it to them, to hear your own words through your own mouth that were just created and filtered by your own mind, you’re learning as you teach.
Every. Single. Day.
A little bit on a regular basis. That sums up many of the research I’ve done on learning. Think of training for a marathon. You don’t go out, the day before the marathon, and run a marathon for practice. Just like you don’t cram for the exam in school the night before (you don’t do that, right?). A little bit on a regular basis. In fact, this can make it appealing for those (kids!) who aren’t interested in the subject. “Let’s just give it our all for the next 15 minutes and we’ll call it a day.”
Short bursts every single day. It works for trainers and fitness and the 12-minute athlete, why can’t it work for all learning and training?
Here are some more theories and sciences to learning how to learn.
- The Art and Science of Learning Anything Faster Tim Ferriss explores how to learn–and how to do it more efficiently and quickly. As usual, Tim Ferriss promised to do things differently and doesn’t disappoint in this podcast episode, “I’m going to share techniques that can help you — even if you’re sub-par or a rote beginner — take the smartest first steps and use 80/20 analysis to accelerate your progress.”
- The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! Simon Oxenham at Big Think studies learning. “A paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions.”
- How to Study and Learn from The Critical Thinking Community to round out the articles on how to learn with a more scholarly approach.