Learning How to Learn
How to learn Faster and Easier (Part 2)
By Basu Nepal
This is second of the 4 article series of how to learn faster and easier. Click Here for previous Article
Chunks are small pieces that combinedly makes up a large block. It is one of great technique in learning. Chunking means taking up small chunks of information and grouping them together to learn and memorize which can improve the amount of information you can hold on to you short term memory.
We can break a long piece of information into smaller chunk that is easier to remember and by connecting chunks, we get the whole information. While solving a problem or studying, we can see for pre solved examples to enable us to see larger picture of the problem. Then we can start chunking it into smaller problems, which are easier to understand as well as memorize, making a chunk and trying to fit it to another chunk to make a connection between them to learn the whole problem.
It’s like solving a puzzle, you collect pieces and try to fit each one with another to solve a bigger puzzle. We may not even need all the piece to get to the final solved puzzle if we are able to look at the bigger picture. Same with learning, we memorize enough chunks to form a bigger picture, some missing part may not really affect the overall information.
We can break a long piece of information into smaller chunk that is easier to remember
Illusion of Competence
It is a situation where you may think you’ve got all the information correct or solved a problem but in reality, you haven’t. It’s an illusion to yourself, sometimes we may think we know something for sure when in reality we are not even close. For example: When we see a solved problem, we may think it is easy and we could do it by seeing the solution in front of us, but we may never be able to solve without actually peeking into the solution.
It’s generally easier for us to peek into notebooks or books rather than recall by ourselves so, we tend to revisit notes giving us illusion of competence. Hence, its essential to recall and do self-test to verify if we actually learned or not. At the same time, when we test ourselves and make a mistake, we learn a lot more. It’s said that we learn from our mistake and it couldn’t be truer. Mistakes helps us correct out thinking and actually makes us learn faster and easier.
As a human being, we have various way of thinking, processing and coming to a solution. Sequential or Linear Thinking is a focused and step by step method of processing information to come to a solution. It involves our focused mode.
It is non-linear thinking and involves our diffused mode. It’s the ability to see the bigger picture and expand thinking in multiple direction. It involves expanding our thought process and trying to find connections to process the information. Different kinds of problems and information requires different approach of thinking.
This is one of the most popular mistakes, we do in our learning process. We learn easy things over and over again giving us an illusion of competence that we learned all and know all whereas in reality we just learned something that we already had in our brain. It can backfire against you, as you may not have time to learn harder problems or may not even realize your incompetence. In order to overcome this mistake, its essential to try to learn hard topics too.
Deliberate Practice & Interleaving
Ordinary practice means repeating same thing over and over again whereas deliberate practice involves focused and intense concentration mostly targeting hard solution or topic. It helps to overcome overlearning easy things and prepares you for overall learning. As we discussed earlier, it’s necessary to have diffused mind kick in after focused mode so, the technique to mix up diffused and focused mind is termed as interleaving. It involves jumping between different topics, different solutions which involves both focused and diffused mind.
If we study in one particular place, our brain associates the information with that particular place, when trying to recall it from another place brain may not be able to associate the information with new place so, it’s also essential to learn in different environment and scenario to make brain familiar with changing environment so it doesn’t associate information with one particular place.
Presume as if you are trying to teach a topic to someone, it will enhance your learning and works in making even stronger connection in the brain about that topic.