Learning to learn

Occasionally I am invited to teach people to use technology to enhance their productivity both internally and externally. My general conclusion is that, confining people to a room to learn things is the worst possible method of transferring knowledge. In general folks who find no discomfort in being locked in a box for more than 15 minutes to see and listen to another human is likely masochistic or lazy.

Perhaps 2 decades ago when information was not as easily assessed and confined to pulp within quiet buildings, the concept of classroom based training made sense. However, with the internet and high speed internet that’s being abused to download 4K 2 hour feature Blu Ray pornography in 60s, I cannot help but wonder, why are people not becoming autodidacts?

This is an age where you can be anyone you want to be. We are no longer confined by the shackles of tradition and the yesteryear ways of thinking. Learning has to evolve. And I do not mean create yet another boring app. If being stuck in a room is bad. Being stuck in a 1080 X 1920 pixel 2 dimensional screen is worse. (Granted that would essentially moot my argument of learning on your own through the use of the internet but hear me out)

Exploration in a safe 2 dimensional environment is a good start. The mediums of knowledge transfer should be explored (person to person, books, screens and experiencing life). The first Neanderthal to discover fire may have been burnt by it and caused a behavior of avoidance. However likewise the other neanderthal experimented and over time learned how to control the flames. Be the second neanderthal. The brave tend to explore the unknown and dream of solutions to problems they face. Technology we enjoy today was built by the frustration and creativity of our ancestors. Written language has allowed us to share something we know with others and it should be our duty to find out instead of adopting a wait and hope approach.

People need to go back to being a child again. Be curious. Forget risks. Explore and make mistakes. Just don’t go so far that we end up having exponential feline homicide. We are programmed to avoid pain. Mistakes bring pain. This is why we learn better through our mistakes. Which is why we try harder to succeed. Those who choose to piggy back off the mistakes of others will not succeed. They lack the scars that sear the experience into their memories.

My general approach is to learn from others (books, blogs, youtube videos, talking to others, sitting in class). That normally helps me understand 1% of the subject. Then I try it out myself. That normally frustrates me 100%. And over time when things sink in, I go through the cycle of researching, trying, failing and researching, the knowledge slowly goes up.

There will be times when you feel like you’ve reached a ceiling. That is the right time to seek a mentor. The mentor will guide you through the fog and the mist.

I’m a big fan of Shu Ha Ri. Learn until you master, break away, create.

And for those in a rush:

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