Monday, January 2, 2017

Learning how to learn - 4

How to become a better learner

1. Exercise
2. Practice during critical periods.

Create a metaphor or analogy.
Practice creating chunks.
Take responsibility for your learning

Check your result from a different perspective. If you don't do that it means you're failing to use your full brain.
Learning in a team will keep us from being overconfident. It will also help us with networking. It will also be a diffuse mode.

Test Checklist:

Did you make a serious effort to understand the text ?
Did you get enough sleep ?

HeadStart - Jump to easy
Work on tough problems before simple problems to use diffuse mode.
If feeling stressed, take a deep breath.
Double check your answer from a different perspective.

Learning how to learn - 3

Procrastination is very easy because the reward (focus on easier task) comes very very easily. Working on something requires focus and willpower which is very energy intensive, so you will feel a little unhappy to use it. You funnel attention to a more pleasant task and you feel happy temporarily and since this happens so fast, it is addicting. In this lesson, we will learn the ways to overcome this. This needs to be tackled and mastered so that procrastination is not a problem for your study.

Habits are energy savers. Cue (trigger) launches into zombie mode. Routine(what we do in reaction to the cue) Zombie mode (the default response). Reward (the reward we get for doing routine). Belief (you belief also is important for maintaining habits) .

We already learnt one method: Pomodoro.

process vs product : to prevent procrastination concentrate on process over product. So just work on it for 30 mins (process) over completing the assignment.

Changing Procrastination Habit.:

Cue - location, time, how you feel, reaction. - Shut off your phone and shutting off the internet.
Routine - Develop a new routine where phone and internet are disconnnected. Don't try to change everything at once.
Reward - why are you procrastinating? Try to find rewards. The brain should start expecting the reward. Then the new habit will become automatic.
Belief - Believe that you can do it. Believe that the new system works.

Keep a planner journal. Commit to a set of routines daily. Delay rewards till you're done.
Look for procrastination cues. Have backup plans for when you fail.
Plan the week and day. Plan for tomorrow at eod today. That will keep Zombie busy.
Plan the ending time of the day.
Eat your frogs first.

our visual and spatial memory is stronger than number and text.
Use index cards and read out load to have auditory hooks.
Practice the index cards before you sleep. Gradually extend the time between repetition.

Memory Palace Technique - Useful for remembering unrelating items. It has an image of navigating through a well known place but with shocking images. For e.g to remember a  grocery list, imagine a giant can of milk at the door, bread all spread over the couch and broken egg dripping from the coffee table.
This helps us to learn in a focused manner.

To put stuff in LTM, you have to practice and repeat.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Learning how to learn -2

Intro to Chunking:

Chunking is connected different ideas together which are related by their meaning or usage.
If different puzzle pieces are given, if all of them are joined together, the completed puzzle will help us remember the puzzle as it has meaning. So even when learning instead of trying to remember each disparate piece of information, if it can be remembered in terms of related concepts or chunks, it is easier to remember.
Imagine an octopus spreading its tentacles in the four working memory slots together with the long term memory to join together related concepts. When we are tired the octopus can't do its work well.

How to chunk.

1. Focussed attention
2. Understanding
3.  Practice to solidify the memory and  understand the context of when to use this and when not to use this concept

Illusions of Competence
1. Glancing the solution and thinking we know it.
2. Not really testing when you're studying

Test yourself and
test in different environment than where you originally learned.

Chemicals involved in Memory:

Acetyl choline - affects focussed learning and attention
Dopamine - released for unexpected rewards
Serotonin - affects social behavior and risk taking.

Chunking, Overstudying, Einstellung effect, Interleaving and choking.
Chunks leanred in one domain can be transfered to a different domain.
Overlearning can be helpful if your'e choking or get automaticity. But don't do this only in one session.
Einstellung effect  is - initial ideas going into a wrong direction to the required solution. Blocked thoughts due to prelearned ideas. To overcome this, you should interleave the problem with other types of problems. Use deliberate practice of tougher ideas, where you making mistakes.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Learning how to learn

Focused mode & Diffuse Mode:
There are two modes of thinking.
The general mode when you're learning something is the focused mode. In this mode the brain searches/makes connections with adjacent or neurons close by. In this mode, it is easy to find the answer to something if you're already have an idea close to the solution and are trying to complete it.

The other mode of thinking which the brain does on its own when you're not particularly focused on anything like when you're running or driving or doing anything on autopilot. In the mode the brain searches and make connections between unrelated ideas. So in this mode it can search in lot of search space so it can make novel connections between ideas. So this mode is important when we're trying to think of new creative solutions.

Interesting ways about accessing diffuse mode from Edison is that, he used to have ball bearings in his hand and take a nap thinking about what he is working on. When we fell asleep and the ball bearings fall to the ground, he will get up and write up the ideas he is thinking on.


Repetition makes perfect:

- More abstract an idea, the more important it is to practice to bring the idea into reality for you.
- Learn in a focused manner and give the mind some break to metaphorically harden the mortar. If you cram everything in a day, the foundations will be weak and it will break down. So try to learn a few things each day instead of cramming.
- Use pomodoro timer for 25 minutes of focused learning and 5 minutes of relaxation

Long term memory & Working Memory

Working memory - It is used for stroring things we are working on. It can only hold 4 chunks at once. Repetion is required to keep things in working memory. For e.g. we will repeat the telephone number before we get a chance to write it down. So working memory is an inefficient blackboard.

Long term memory - It needs some memory to make it permanent. Use spaced repetition over a number of days to store things in long term memory.

Importance of Sleep:

When we sleep the brain cells get smaller and the Cerebro Spinal Fluid will wash away any toxins built up between the brain cells during the day.
During sleep the less important connections are wiped away and the important ones are strengthened.
Also the things we read before sleep are more likely the things we might dream. So these will help strengthen the ideas we are trying to learn.

Importance of creative environment, exercise and learning by doing.

- It is important to be between other people who challenge and stimulate us with their ideas. That will help with learning things by osmosis.
- Exercise helps to generate new neurons and will help us learn new things.
- Another good way is to learn by doing i.e being active learner instead of passive. Being an active learner will force us to clarify the thoughts and will also keep the interest alive in what we're doing.

pesonality characterstics of Creativity
Agreeableness - less agreeable

Powers of 10 problem solving - Like go up 10 miles, 100 miles, 1000 miles etc.. and see the problem from that height.
then go down to 1/10 miles 1/100 miles, 1/1000 miles to the molecules atoms etc. So this is zooming in and zooming out see the same problem from height and go into details.

- Use BrainMapping. this will open up diffuse mode of thinking.
- When you're writing, don't edit while you write. First

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Learning Optimism

Being positive is associated with the feelings of happiness and achievement. And more importantly positive thinking can be learnt. Here are three ways how negative people think and how it can be replaced with positive thinking.
  • Permanent. Situation: A girl rejected a boy. Negative: Ohh.I'm doomed. I will not be able to have a girl in my life. Positive: There are lot of girls in this world. If not this, then I can find someone else.
  • Pervasive. Situation: A person's joke bombed. Negative: I knew I was not funny. Stupid of me to try this. Positive: Ok, this joke didn't fit for this audience. I will try some other joke.
  • Personal. Situation: A person got a angry answer from someone. Negative: I know he doesn't like me. Thats why he shouts and doesn't want to talk with me. Positive: Ok, seems that that guy is having a bad day today. Hope his problem is resolved soon.
See how different the perspectives are ? If you can think of any situation not as permanent, pervasive and personal but as temporary, localized and impersonal, it is easy to be more positive.
From - Learned Optimisim by Martin Seligman courtesy of FightMediocrity( .

Increasing your will power

  • Get enough sleep. If you dont get enough sleep you are like an intoxicated person or like a person with ADHD. Then it is difficult for you to resist unhealthy or useless stuff.
  • Meditate. Willpower is like a muscle. If you excercise the muscle, it will become stronger. Meditation is like excercise for the mind. During meditation, you get multiple thoughts to derail you but you will learn to ignore them and concentrate on the object of interest. The more you meditate, the easier for you to ignore the useless stuff.
  • First thing first. Willpower is a limited resource. So you have to use it carefully. The best way to use it is to build good habits so that good things become automatic. If a habit is ingrained, you don't need to expend willpower to do that. The mind will do it on auto pilot. Another thing is to use the limited willpower you have to do difficult and creative things first rather than checking facebook or answering email.
Source: from the book How to have more will power - by Kelly McGonigal 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Holistic Learning

Holistic Learning - Scott Young
  • In our brains information is not organized neatly into boxes but it is linked to other information we have.
  • So if we form multiple constructs and find links between them, then we should be able to retrieve them easily.
  • Since they will be linked like a web, even if we lose (forget) one link, we can easily work out the whole domain based on the other links.
  • To form constructs, we need to create models which can be simple ones just to understand the concept at hand.
  • Once the models are formed, then can be linked together to form constructs.
  • This works well in fields which is built upon concepts like science, math, relationships etc. but it will not work on fields just built arbitrarily like law, vocabulary etc.
  • It also doesn't work on skills which are learnt subconsciously by practice like golf or any sport.
How can we build good constructs
  • To form models, it would be helpful to viscerally experience the concept. It is not just visualization but sight, sound, touch and feel the thought. You can start by drawing the concepts on paper, but with practice we can do this entirely in our mind.
  • We can form models by visceralization but they will not be linked, we can use metaphors to link the models. We can do this by playing a game of 'this reminds me of..' even though they seem ridiculous at first, you should be able to form links which would strengthen the construct.
  • In this stage, we need to test our construct to reduce errors and fill any holes it might have. The best way is to solve problems with the concepts we have learnt. If we are having to solve the same problem again and again, it means we haven't formed models and constructs well. Just studying wouldn't really strengthen the model. Active recall helps test the models as we don't have anything else to fall back on.
You can read the book here for a more thorough explanation.