A 2 year old walks into a kindergarten for the first time. The shelves are full of colourful activities and equipment. He can't really make sense of the equipment, but is fascinated by the colours, shapes and sizes of everything he sees. He wants to try everything!
He picks up one activity, but he can't really do it, since it above his level. He gets frustrated and moves onto something else that looks simpler. This particular puzzle is up his alley - it has bright coloured animals and he needs to put them back into their grooves after matching them. He does this a few times and then gets bored. He needs another challenge! He walks around the environment and sees another interesting puzzle. He want to try it - this one isn't as complex as the one he picked up first, but still slightly out of his league.
A teacher notices him struggling to make sense of it and walks over to him. 'Come, I'll show you how to do this'. She proceeds to explain how to match the corner pieces to the corners of the puzzles. She also gives him clues about how to find adjoining pieces - 'look at the colour at the edge of the piece and the shape of the piece. Can you find a piece with the same colour and with a shape that can fit inside this piece?'
The child starts to see how to complete this puzzle. He struggles at first, but eventually gets it. Day after day, he keeps coming back to this puzzle. After 2 weeks, he can do this puzzle with his eyes closed almost. Time for the next challenge!
What's the point?
Learning appears haphazard, but it isn't. The little boy above needed a challenge that was just right to keep his interest. Too hard and he would get frustrated, and too easy would lead to boredom.
At first, he didn't know how to solve the puzzle. The teacher taught him a few 'tricks' - look for corners and look for pieces with the same colour on the edges. Once he realised how this could help him find the right piece, he started to see a pattern. Pieces in puzzles interlock.
He engaged in repetitive learning by doing the activity over many days. With each attempt, his brain seemed to know what to do next, since he had learned the process. Finally, there was little else to learn with this particular puzzle.
He could then use this knowledge of looking for corner pieces first, then colours and certain shapes, and apply this model to solving pretty much any puzzle.
In short, this little child had learned how to solve any puzzle.
Learning how to learn is about the following skills:
- the art of choosing the puzzle (mental models)
- picking which pieces you want to tackle first (breaking down problems)
- learning a method which aids learning (toolkit)
- building a habit of using that method (habit formation)
- learning from error (reflection and feedback)
- thinking about the above process and seeing how one can use it to learn other skills and also how it can be improved (meta-cognition)
Core components of the curriculum
Becoming a superlearner involves the following:
Become aware of your own delusions (Mindset)
True learning is about being aware of your own perceptions, assumptions and beliefs about a particular subject and yourself.
Organise a few activities which help participants realise that everything they know and understand is a result of the meaning they have attributed to past events.
Next, give people a framework to reframe their future past - to help them become aware of the assumptions that are running their OS, and to re-frame the assumptions in light of new information
For above, I am developing a list of activities and exercises we can do as part of the sessions. Will demo them to soon.
Designing your environment (Environment)
Learning doesn't happen if the conditions are not right.
Environment design refers to the physical environment, but also figuring out what the best way to consume information is.
How do the following affect the quality of learning?
- Movement & Exercise
- Attention (Format of content)
- Sensory integration
At the sessions, we devise experiences where people can explore how the above can dramatically increase the efficiency of learning.
Learning and implementing techniques (Toolkit)
Here we cover techniques which aid learning:
- spaced repitition
- active recall
- Feynman's techniques