About Learning

As I enter my last year of highschool, the idea of “learning” holds a very important part in my life. This year is going to decide the rest of my life (according to peers and seniors) and so the idea of learning or being good at something by learning it had become more or less the focal point of my life now.
So I decided to read up a little of this subject, something which we’ve all done and we all continue doing, in different ways.

So here’s what I found from learning about learning –

Learning new things has become a skill everyone has to develop in order to thrive in the mordern world where change is an everyday occurance. In order to handle this everyday change, we need to be able to learn and unlearn just as rapidly.
With the mordern world, if you want to reach any level of success, you have to aim for being the best (it’s hard to accept it, but being average just won’t work anymore).

Every field out there is constantly changing, everything is becoming bigger and better and to keep up with the changes we have to be able to develop ourselves in such a way that we thrive, and that can only be by having the habit of learning (all the time!)

When we think of learning schools and colleges is mostly the first thing that comes to mind. For the average person going back to school/college or being in institutions isn’t always an option, that’s when ultralearning comes in.

What is ultralearning?

( Source – Ultralearning by Scott H Young )

According to the book by Scott H Young, “Ultralearning is a strategy for aggressive, self-directed learning.” Simply speaking, it is a way of dealing with the ever changing world by taking the power of effective learning into your own hands.

It’s about taking decisions concerning the idea of learning, more so, the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of learning. Ultralearning tends to have unusual steps/methods for the most effective learning, and these “ultralearners” are those who make/search for some of these bizarre steps for maximum learning efficiency.

Ultralearning aims to highlight some of these core points

  • Start by learning the ‘how’ of learning. To put it simply, understand how you want to learn the new skill.
  • Practice makes perfect, so try to implement what you’re learning in everyday life.
  • Your comfort zone is your biggest enemy. Step out of it when it comes to learning new things.
  • Feedback from outside can be your biggest help. Learn to take criticism and suggestions.
  • Dissolve difficult and complex tasks into smaller simpler tasks.
  • Constantly testing your knowledge helps in making an assessment of your own skills and changes you need to make.
  • Explore different concepts and ideas to widen your horizon.
  • Focus is an essential part of learning. So cut off distractions.

Speaking of distractions, which are the most common when it comes to learning?

Your Work

Some of the work that we wish to pursue can be a little too difficult, making it easier for other things to distract us, or simply seem like a “better” use of our time. That’s when the idea of breaking complex tasks into simpler task comes into play. When you try to do something complex it’s difficult for your brain to take in all the new and complex information. Breaking a difficult task/skill into smaller, more manageable chunks allows our mind to accept and process information much more easily and effectively.

Your Environment

It’s obvious enough, the things in and around your surroundings hold the power to grab your attention and distract you from the work right infront of you. Surrounding yourself with a “learner friendly” environment is essential to make the most out of your learning time.
To test out how well a work area is for you, try learning something for a set amount of time, during that timespan keep track of how many times you get distracted by something and at the end of the timespan test yourself to see how much of the information you were able to retain. Try it with a few possible options and go for what suit you best.

Your mind

The biggest distractor! If you feel constantly distracted, without it being your environment or any other external medium, it might be that it’s all internal!
The negative emotions – depressive, angry thoughts, the whirlwind of thoughts travelling in your head, the daydreamings, the million notes going through your mind – it all plays a big role in messing up with your ability to learn and have a clear head for recalling information you’ve already learnt.

With all these distractions known, it’s important to note that you can overcome these distractions with a little hard work and effort.

What is Interleaving?

Interleaving is another skill that people who are forever learning swear by, especially while learning something new.
It is all about spacing out the learning process over a long period of time, randomising the information and frequent active recalling of past information that has been already learnt.

It allows the brain to hold focus for longer periods of time and forces you to adjust yourself to probelm solving in every step, allowing the information to be stored as a long term memory rather than passively learning and re-learning the same thing with no positive result.

A few final tips for all the hungry learners

  1. To learn a concept completely, it’s important to understand it fully. And to understand something thoroughly visualising it plays a very big role.
  2. Practicing everything you learn – be it in the form of tests or quizzes or even using it in real life situations helps fixing something to your mind.
  3. Whenever you face roadblocks, take a break. Overly obsessing over a particular topic might not always help solve it, instead, taking a break and looking at the problem from a different angle can help get a better perspective.
  4. Plenty of sleep is always a key aspect of learning. Sleep not only affects your recall and memory, it also helps your mind calm down and helps functioning of your creative side.
  5. Self motivation is the most important aspect of learning something while being happy. When you learn something that you actually love and have full interest in, you feel motivated to be the best at it.

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