The Science of Learning to Learn — Part 2
Hey everyone, this is the second part of my The Science of Learning to Learn blog post series. If you haven’t read part 1, then surely check it out here.
We are going to cover these topics in this part:-
- It pays not to be busy
- How to solve problems?
- Spaced Repetition
- Saving Energy with Habits
- Have an Endpoint
- Be Bored
- The Science of Feedback
Goals help us to create a roadmap of what we want to achieve. When we set big goals, it is fascinating, but it can also get scary.
When we are scared of something or achieving any goal, or something is difficult for us, the region of the brain called the amygdala that handles our emotions and detects fear, responds by immediately seeking out comfort and finding something that can overcome the feeling.
The idea is to take small steps towards your goal, when we take small steps towards our goal it is easy to achieve those small steps, and it motivates our brain to achieve those other small steps, and in this way, we avoid triggering the amygdala’s fear detection system.
When we take small steps towards our goal we also eliminate the fear of failure. The smaller the steps are the easier it becomes to form new connections in our brain, and it leads to the idea of compound learning.
It Pays Not to Be Busy
Always being busy is not a good thing, it states how much you lack in time management. The region of the brain called the hippocampus is crucial to learning, new neurons are born every day in the hippocampus. Being constantly busy lacks the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus.
For sure, being constantly busy is not a badge of honor, you are doing a disservice to your brain. And as we learned in the first part that diffused mode of thinking is crucial to learning, so being busy lacks the diffuse mode of thinking.
To learn efficiently you should manage your time accordingly, take small breaks between your tasks to not be constantly busy. And always remember that more does not always mean better, the key is to be efficient.
How do you solve a hard problem?
The answer to this question is that you need to break the problem into small chunks, parts, or problems. Then try to finish the small chunks and then combine all these parts or chunks to solve the question.
The main idea here is to divide the question or problem into as small chunks as you can and then try to solve the chunks first and then combine all these chunks to make a system or to solve the problem.
How to Solve a Problem?
Problem-solving is one of the most in-demand and best skills you can have for your advantage. We need to figure out that in which mode we should solve the problem i.e. focus or diffuse.
When a problem is straightforward and intuitive then you need to focus on the problem. But when the problem becomes less straightforward and requires creativity the diffuse mode of thinking is best.
Revisiting and practicing what you learn is very important when it comes to efficient learning. It is the best way to build and strengthen the connections in our neurons to improve memory.
Our learning improves after every repetition of it as it improves the connections in our neurons. So the main idea here is to revisiting and practicing what you learned to improve the connections in your brain to improve your memory.
Saving Energy with Habits
We form habits so that we do not need to focus on performing habitual tasks. For example, brushing your teeth is a habitual activity and you do not need any focus for it, but if you try to brush your teeth from the opposite hand, it requires focus and starts building new connections in your brain.
As we do not need any focus for habitual tasks then it can really help us saving energy for completing those tasks as we do those tasks almost automatically.
Writing your daily list the evening before such as your goals helps to accomplish them the next day.
Have an Endpoint
When you need to perform an unpleasant task then your brain needs to know that there is an end in sight, i.e. there is an endpoint. Goals are a great example of this, you know exactly where to stop which helps your brain keep motivated.
Having an endpoint extends the idea of chunking, as the goals are much easier to achieve it helps us keep us motivated towards our big goal.
If I have some task to do and I need to finish it in one day, I still keep an endpoint, for example:- No matter what, by 5 pm I am going to stop working and give my brain some rest.
In today’s world, being bored is becoming less and less common. Being bored is important as it allows the diffuse mode of thinking to happen. As we all are distracted by something like youtube, websites, blogs, etc. so being bored is really uncommon.
Being bored allows us to think of creative solutions, to think about things, to strengthen our connections in our brain. So being constantly distracted or busy like listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos is actually bad for our brain.
The Science of Feedback
If you want to learn something, feedback is crucial. If nobody is telling you if you are doing something wrong or right, then probably you may end up taking the wrong path and not learning anything.
When it comes to feedback there are two types of feedbacks:-
- Negative feedback, eg- No you are not doing it right, this is wrong.
- Positive feedback, eg- You are doing it right, this is working well.
Research shows that masters prefer negative feedbacks over positive feedbacks because negative feedbacks exactly tell you what is not liked by others, or what is needed to be fixed.
Research shows that as long as you get negative feedback, you do not need any positive feedback to learn anything.
So this was all the science of learning how to learn, in the next few posts I would be covering the techniques built upon these science, which are proven for effective learning. Link to Part 1.