Learning: the right challenge at the right time

It’s that time in my life where school is suddenly in the picture, via¬†a certain 4-year-old I know ūüôā One thing I’ve already noticed is how ready a child can be for a new challenge.¬†A challenge that is big, worrying, exciting, almost too much to get your head around – yet, at the same time, exactly what you needed without realizing just how ready you were to take on something completely new.

Ready for a challenge

Cat taking on the challenge | Click to view image by Waponigirl on Flickr

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The importance of feedback for your learning

Whenever you are¬†learning¬†something new,¬†there’s nothing more important than the feedback loop¬† – you need to know how you’re doing at¬†your task. This helps¬†you improve¬†your learning¬†process to bring that moment nearer when you’ll be able to say “Yes! Now I can do this.”

Feedback Loops And 'Learning'

A demonstration of what the right feedback loops and algorithms can do in machines.

I recently watched a video from Zurich.MINDS and really only got interested when Raffaello D’Angelo started talking about feedback loops in computerized machines. Continue reading

The temporary teacher – education by subject matter experts

Education matters to me. Not least because I spent about 20 years at a school of some description. And learning¬†new things¬†is my favorite passtime, especially at work ūüėČ

What will education look like in the future? What will that mean for teachers? And how will the pupils fare under the new educational practice?

Education by specialists: the temporary teacher

Temporary teacher: Education by Subject Matter Experts

Subject Matter Experts On The Loose – HikingArtist.com; Flickr image

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How improving your learning strategy will help your career

If there’s one thing in my career I’ve regretted it’s not¬†pouring some strategy into¬†my learning processes sooner.

Here’s the thing: I was a fast learning kid. No plodding for me. Sounds great, right?

Career Hurdles and Learning Strategy

Women’s Final of 80 meter hurdles, Olympic Games, London, 1948.
Daily Herald Archive at the National Media Museum [Click to view image on Flickr]

Wrong. The one thing you need to consider – I’m now looking at it as a parent – is that if your kid¬†is (or if you are) very fast on the uptake, part of all that learning capacity should go into the strategy of learning. Don’t wait till your kid is 16 years old.

Questions for your learning strategy

Starting small, explore questions like these:

  1. What is learning?
  2. How can you learn something new?
  3. What different methods of learning are there?
  4. What works for learning different topics?
  5. How can you tell how you should go about a new task or a new subject? It’s ‘meta’ time ūüôā

Most importantly, you need to take the whole concept of learning to a level where the task in hand no longer matters. Only when knowing how to perform a specific task is no longer enough does your need to know #5 become apparent.

How can being a fast learner spoil your learning?

That’s easy. My default learning strategy was: “You read it. You read it again. You’re ready.” Sophisticated stuff, I know. It worked for me most of the time.

Oddly enough, it didn’t work¬†with maths after a certain point. Of course now I know that¬†I¬†was trying¬†to memorize everything without understanding any of it.

There’s nothing like a crisis to revise your¬†learning strategy

When did I finally revise my learning ‘strategy’? After I failed big time in my first year at university. I had four exams and failed two. How did that happen? Actually this is a bit embarrassing in retrospect. I failed because I couldn’t read and memorize everything in that foot-high pile of … well, stuff about art ūüėČ

This was an eye-opener. I had¬†skipped maths before my grades reached embarrassing levels. Getting really poor grades for the first time in your life makes it painfully clear you’re doing something fundamentally wrong. It is, as they say, a great learning opportunity. Yay!

It worked. I learned.

How does a learning strategy help you in your career?

Whenever you’re faced with a new task, new job, new career, you’ll find yourself having to figure out what will work best in that particular situation. Doing what you always did will lead to good results in some cases, or it will leave you in a smelly bog wondering what went wrong.

Bringing a strategic approach to your tasks means you will do things like:

  1. come up with a rough guide or plan for a new task,
  2. consciously¬†opt for a general direction that’s most likely to get results,
  3. finetune your actions as you go along.

Take a learning approach to your career – starting today.

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How do you approach new tasks? Add your thoughts about learning, plodding, career, and school issues in a comment. I will, as always, reply to anything non-spammy ūüėČ