Project : BrainLearning — Blog 2 — What is learning for adult ?

What is learning for adult ?

The moment I realized that I don’t enjoy learning ( or learning process), next questions was what I mean by learning ? How do I know the thing I hate is learning ( or learning process) and not something else ? ( I am only talking about learning in adults. An adult who is more than 18 year old )

If I do not know what is learning then there is a big problem. The whole hypothesis or assumptions and process to understand how my brain learns or how to learn ‘learning’ becomes a full mess of confusion.

And the answer is I don’t know what is learning.

I think, after searching the scientific definition of learning in google. I am deeply unsatisfied with the definitions. Or may be it is my ignorance.

And If I don’t know, I have to assume and defined learning.

When you think about learning, you will also come across the things like skills, understanding, knowledge, education, memory etc.

But there is two ways to find definition of adult learning

1- If I accept the standard definition of learning

the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught.

2- If I defined my own as assumption which I understood from my experiences. My process to define learning is not full scientific process but a starting point of my assumption of learning which I understood. My assumption of learning is following

any set of information which you take as input, processed and can apply to do a task or to solve a problem or perform a sequential work or do an action.

Now if I assume above is learning. I also have to define what I mean by set of information. How to define set of information which can be learned by humans ?

You can learn things which can be applied in finite time and it should be new information. Finite time varry from micro seconds to few seconds to few minutes to few hours . But it has limit. Mostly things which humans learned are applied by humans in some particular time.

Take two examples Playing Piano and Hiking

If I learned to play a piano ( or I think I know how to play piano), I can apply to play a piano on few minutes or few hours. Also I can play it any time (on demand ) irrespective of my external ecosystem . I can play alone. I can play with other musician. I can play on stage. In the case of Piano, I am applying my learning to perform a task in finite amount of time.

Now lets take Hiking. Can we learn hiking ? hiking is walking for a long distance. If we are Hiking actually we are walking. So hiking may be something we can not learn. It is combination of various things.

I think, It is still very difficult to explain which human can learn or which are not. But these are my assumption.

After observing my own learning process and failing miserably, I can put some assumption of my understand of learning. They are based on my own experience. They are not facts, just things that I understood in general.

As I explained in my first blog, I want to learn about my own brain which also includes how I feel when I am learning. But it is just one part of the equation. I hope it is most important part.

First Assumption

I am very confident that learning can not be defined without discussing its application. If there is learning then human should able to apply learning on demand and in finite time range.

If I am saying, I learned set of new information, I should also able to apply these learning to perform a task, to solve a problem or to do an action on demand

Most often we go to learning class, we understood the concept and know we think we get it. We feel confident, we do few exercises ( which are directly related to the concept which we learned) and we think that we learned something new. It is not true. It is half learning and merely adding a new set of information to you brain which will eventually disappear in few days or week.

We are not learning if are not applying the learning on completely new task or in to unrelated problem or to completely new an action.

Understanding is different than learning. I understand how something works and I understand it basic principle but learning happened when I able to apply what I understand on performing a task , solving a new problem or doing an action. It is learning. If I understand how to play guitar, I should able to play a new songs. Just knowing or understanding is not learning.

But this is the way how our schools and college system see learning. We teach children, young folks and adults, in a structure where they understand the concepts or information, they feel confident about it, they do exercise and we evaluate learning by exams papers. If they got grade or numbers it means they learned it.

It is half baked cake. It is merely an Education but not learning. Educating is not learning. Education is not learning.

Learning happened when we applied on new problem, new task , new action etc. Exam papers ( the way we designed it) and exercise are practice what we understand but it is not applying.

Second Assumption

Learning feels hard, tough and exhausting.

If it is not then we are not learning new information. We are only taking new information as input which already have in our brain.

It is very common experience that everybody faced. If you are learning new thing, it always feels hard and you need to put lot of work ( focus, energy, time). If you are not feeling in this way then you are only understanding the information. You are just taking information as input or may be it is processing but you are not ready to apply it.

If learning feels fun or you feel happy, It is good chances that you are not learning new thing or learning at all. May be you are feeling that you are learning because you are feeling happy.

If you are learning, it means you are taking new information as input. Brain always find hard to take new information.

I have my own experience- ( It could be just my experience)

I started watching youtube science videos ( to learn physics concept). These videos are produced for mass audience with funny vibes, background music, easy explanation, graphics, humor script and funny narration. They are short in length and fast in narration. Whenever I watched those science video, I feel happy and satisfied. It feels fun for me. Overall it gives me a signal that I learned something new.

Wrong, when I revised what I watched and rethink about it and try to apply what I learned, I failed miserably. It means I did not learn anything.

On the other hand If I watched a academic style to the point video or whiteboard style video ( no noise, no background music, only concrete information ) where it is hard to focus on required effort to watch it. Result are better compare.

Again if I try to learn things by reading ( book or paper ) instead of visual medium. It really really change the whole game, in that case reading is hard but it gives better result.

Third Assumption

Learning is not creating memory. Learning is not equal to memory. Learning is not memorizing.

Initially I thought learning is same as creating memory. But It is not true. Memory is different ball game but it is one part of learning process. Good memory helps in learning process.In order to assume anything regarding memory, I have to understand more about memory.

But I think memory in context of learning is a packet of information. When brain learned something it means it created these packets store in a form of web of neural network.

For me personally memory is a puzzle or a problem. I think my weak memory and unable to control emotion at the time of learning are two main factors which makes learning hard for me.

If I learned something ( suppose X set of information ) when it comes to applying the learning, I find very hard to recollect information, it is slow process for me, takes more time and makes me frustrated because it increase the time of apply my learning ( for example solving a problem).

Fourth Assumption

Learning works same way for every human brain and for every subject ( maths, programming, guitar, singing , piano, byk stunts, boxing etc). So the basic principle of learning is same. It doesn’t depend on human physical structure or human chemistry or genes. The part of brain which is responsible of learning is in general same for all humans. ( excluding some brain disease but they should be severe )

There are two type of task or problem or action when it comes to applying learning

Cognitive ( programming, mathematics, language etc) 
Physical ( driving, playing sports, instruments, singing etc)

Fundamental of learning is same for learning maths or learning flying plane. For the brain it is same. Difference comes on implementing the learning into something.

In maths we learn cognitive to cognitive coordination. In learning flying plane we learn cognitive and physical body coordination.

Fifth assumption

If you are not able to learn something it means we have to work on coordination of brain and human physical body ( other than brain) or chemistry. For example If you are not able to learn basic or advance maths or programming because you are not able to control emotions while learning or when you are stuck problem related to it( frustration, concentration, anger, excitement, happiness, sadness etc) then it is not just a physiological ( behavior) thing but it is related to the brain. If you are not able to learn driving or flying plane, may be due to fear you unable to make a coordination between brain and physical body, In both cases you can learn all you need to work on controlling emotions.

What about if you are blind or your shoulder is too weak for learning to play baseball pitch. Yes in that case physical restriction can effect learning. But upcoming of age of robotics has answer for your physical weakness and machine ( external piece of machine) can provide a assistant so that you can negate your physical limitation.

My Objectives

These was some of my assumption which I feel during my own learning process. It is a continuous process and more I read about current work on neuroscience and adult learning, more I can take this into right direction. I am confident that I can take my research to some scientific direction.

I do not started this blog to be a writer or to write brain fiction. I am really interested to know about my learning and to know how, why and when it learns and when it is not and why.

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