The science of learning is progressing, and getting some tricks in your learning arsenal can help you vastly increase your ability to consume and utilise new information. Below, I have outlined some such hints and tricks to get you on your way.
We’ve been told for around 20 years that we are kinaesthetic learners, auditory learners or visual learners. It turns out this has next to no evidential basis. Studies suggest that mixing modalities is effective because the brain likes novelty, and it also gives it a chance to encode information in different ways. So don’t just listen, just read or indeed, justify a lack of reading by claiming you are just a kinaesthetic learner, because I’m afraid it’s a fallacy!
I have discussed Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset at greater length here. The upshot is that some people see their abilities as changeable and others don’t. Can you guess which camp it’s better to be in? You’ve got it, those who see their lives as an opportunity for growth massively outperform those that don’t. Why? Among other things, it’s their attitude to learning. If you believe you can’t learn something, you’re probably right…
Teachers are trying to come to terms with how to educate for an unknowable future. One of the key concepts is likely to be information management, however. That will mean learning to prioritise certain learning materials, sifting out less significant information. This includes discarding poor information, and—importantly—the synthesis of ideas over and above rote memorisation.
What does that mean for you? Well, prioritising what you consume is a good start. If you are aimlessly browsing the internet or reading the paper on an hourly basis, you may want to question if that is helping you towards your learning goals. If you listed your learning priorities, would the daily news come top of the list? Mental energy is like currency, so spend it wisely.
You probably know, on an academic level, that it’s okay to make mistakes. But do you put it into practice? I know I am very hard on myself when I learn, because it’s how I was taught. This is despite writing many articles on Growth Mindset and adapting after failure. It is just one of those mantras you need to keep repeating (and start catching yourself if you aren’t following it!).
This is a new and exciting area in the science of performance and learning. For a deep dive into the subject, read Matthew Syed’s Rebel Ideas. In essence, the group outperforms the individual nearly every time. Learning is a dynamic and social enterprise, and to solve problems creatively we need to accept a diversity of opinion and synthesise the opinions of the group.
So now you’ve learnt about all these methods, prioritise, put new ideas together, and always keep a growth mindset approach when faced with a new challenge.
Hi, my name's Phil. I am a Content Writer and Producer. My background is a mixture of education, social media and management. I've spent a lot of my career working in Latin America and Spain, and I have a love for languages and education.