MIT Media Lab’s 4Ps of Learning

Learn how to learn better

I've been listening to Steven Johnson's excellent Wonderland podcast.

It's both companion series to and content marketing for his new book Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World.

Each episode is a highly digestible 20 minutes and they cover some fascinating topics.

Like how playing action video games enhance your brain's develop cognitive flexibility that measurably speeds up your ability to task switch.

How games are the only medium that require you to make decisions, which makes them ideal for learning, since you are constantly making predictions and then testing them. How rules are the universal language of a game. How games are perhaps better described as engagement engines than as pastimes.

And how learning by doing is fundamentally different to learning by reading.

The last episode features Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab, famed centre of interdisciplinary innovation.

He outlines their 4Ps of Learning:

PROJECTS: learn by doing

PEERS: learn from others and by teaching others

PASSION: do things you are interested in

PLAY: make it fun and make time to play

He talks about how the attempt to foster a culture that allows for and encourages these modes, especially play. Play, it turns out, creates hyper-neuroplasticity in the brain.

What’s that, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did.

When news articles hysterically proclaim things like "THE INTERNET IS CHANGING YOUR BRAIN" this is both true and utterly inane.

Everything, every single thing you ever do, or see, or think, changes your brain. That's what learning and memory are.

This hysterical hyperbole happens all the time when modern science, which is perforce complex, is reduced to clickbait. Often times 'simplifying' complex {rather than complicated} things renders them wrong, not simpler.

The hysteria stems from a fundamentally broken belief - that your brain stops changing once you hit adulthood. This is completely false. The brain is plastic - it constantly rewires itself. That’s what neuroplasticity means.

[Check out The Brain That Changes Itself for more on this.]

Neurons that fire together, wire together is the aphorism that neuroscientists use. The more you think about something, do something, the more that pattern gets hardwired in your head.

That's the heart of cognitive behavioral therapy and the idea of practice and 'muscle' memory too. That's why depression can be caused by ruminating for too long on negative thoughts and why affirmations can improve mood.

Now scientists can analyze what's happening in people's heads when they play games, as children and adults, and it turns out something about the "play state" make our brains especially plastic, making it easier to learn. Hence hyper-neuroplastcity.

So if you want to foster a learning culture, or to learn something, make it playful. Or, as we say at Genius Steals:

THANKS FOR READING!

HOPEFULLY IT WAS FUN AND YOU LEARNED A LITTLE SOMETHING.

WANT MORE FUN FACTS & IDEA INSPIRATION? SUBSCRIBE BELOW AND HAVE MORE, BETTER IDEAS.

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