Learning how to learn.

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As funny as it may sound but I have never seen such a subject in any curricula of various educational institutions that I attended throughout my life. Yet the importance of a learning technique cannot and should not be underestimated for it lays in the core of our personal success, and not only academic. The way we perceive and apply new information is inherently unique due to the individual cognitive capacity our brains possess. And yet there are certain similarities in the technical patterns of brain function that allowed an American professor of Engineering, Barbara Oakley to compile a list of techniques that support and advance our learning abilities. These techniques have helped me personally while I was struggling to adjust to the new educational system, and with few individual modifications, I have seen substantial academic improvements in a short period of time. Here are the top 5 ideas to help your learning (originally integrated from https://barbaraoakley.com/books/learning-how-to-learn/):

  1. Make use of both the intense focused and relaxed diffuse modes. If you are getting frustrated, it’s time to switch to another topic. Or get some physical exercise!
  2. Create brain‐links with practice, repetition, and recall. Practice important problems so you can easily recall each step. Solutions, concepts, and techniques should flow like songs in your mind.
  3. Interleave. Don’t just keep practising with slight changes in the same basic technique. Switch back and forth between different techniques. This will allow you to see when to use a technique. Books usually don’t help you interleave. You will have to practice skipping back and forth between the ideas in different chapters yourself.
  4. Space out your learning. Practice over at least several days. This gives time for your new synapses to form.
  5. Find ways to learn actively, outside of your usual classes. Look online for other explanations. Read other books. Join a club. If you don’t find a club in the subject that interests you, see if you can start one.

Final practical advice – you have the power to develop your personal abilities so to maximise the outcome of your efforts simply be consistent and creative. Learning does not have to be dull nor gloomy. Make it fun, add some spice into it – find like-minded people, join groups, watch TV shows or listen to audio books related to the topic. As a stat of your fascinating journey you can join an online course https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn.

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Maria Sossenkova

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