Happy New Year y’all!
I figured it’d be an appropriate time to pick up some new tricks.
I also figured it’d be potentially neat to read up on how to OpTiMiZe time spent learning new things!
Something less dense than a cognitive psych textbook, and less uh… fluffy (?) than the Tim Ferriss brain hacking sort of thing is what I’m after.
Be it executional, theoretical, or only tangentially related, I’m interested in any and all idears!
Happy New Year y’all!
@myacademy have you read Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin? It’s not a textbook, but it was where I learned about the concept of “deliberate practice” and I found the breakdown of the concept helpful to apply it to different things I’m interested in learning.
Heyyo, happy new year! In my mind, every season is learning season, but now seems an especially good time to get that exploratory momentum going
I will also tag @jaredpereira as someone particularly interested in theory & practice of learning who may have some good recs here.
My personal favorite books on learning include:
- How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method — cool book about various types of problem solving in math, technical but also pretty readable and kind of a classic
- Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education — surprisingly deep dive into a new super ambitious alternative online university
- Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas — classic about how to help kids learn with computers in creative ways
- How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read — this one’s very fun and germane to the idea of the antilibrary! — talks about the value of ‘non-reading’ / different ways of engaging with books etc.
- Minding the Muse — great short and practical handbook for creativity, been meaning to re-read this, I think much of it could apply to learning too
Also a bunch from my antilibrary that look really interesting! Maybe too many, so I’m gonna narrow down to the few I’m most interested in actually reading. If anyone’s interested in any of these let me know, maybe we can read one or two of 'em together!
If you want something that touches on how we think, our biases & thought processes (how we learn really) I’d recommemd Danny Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast & Slow. It’s dense but still accessible.
But if you haven’t read that yet, I’d recommend reading the backstory of the ideas of the book first – The Undoing Project. It’s a wonderful bio on Kahneman & his colleague Amos Tversky’s work in how we think. There are many wonderful examples in the book about how people learn in their work & how they get in their own way, from talent scouts for basketball teams to surgeons.
Seconding mindstorms! I went in expecting for it to be fiarly computer specific but it’s pretty wide ranging to just learning in general.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich are both two that dive into how learning is situated in border social and political contexts, which can be extremely valuable to get a perspective on, but probably won’t help if you’re goal is to learn arbitrary things more efficiently.
I guess my question would be what exactly learning efficiently means to you @myacademy . At the end of the day I think it’s going to be pretty subject specific. You should be building specific habits and learning structures tied to the things you want to learn. Atomic Habits, from my antilibrary seems good for this on this, but also a little self-helpy so I"m unsure!
@Brendan let’s read Communities of Practice! I’d love to explore more about how learning happens outside of the classroom environment, and I’m interested in building support communities for different learning objectives.
Absolutely! I can make a topic for it I’m actually reading another book on community right now (Community: The Structure of Belonging) and Communities of Practice seems like a great one to explore next. (Heads up, it’s a kinda pricey academic book, like $45, though available used for ~ half that)
@myacademy any of these suggestions resonate? And / or other more specific sorts of stuff you may be looking for?
This topic is very interesting to me. Discourse is flagging my comments as spam if it has links but here are a few things worth reading on the Web:
- John Denker’s “The Spiral Approach to Thinking and Learning” : This argues that Mastery learning (which Khan Academy and others argue in favor of) is sub-optimal.
- Spaced repetition systems for learning via flashcards. There is evidence that it helps with not just memorization, but also concept building of complex topics.
- Barbara Oakley’s massively famous course “Learning How To Learn”
I am currently in the middle of reading as much as I can and synthesizing all these ideas in a cohesive framework.
Yeah, still open to read it despite the cost. I can wrap up some books and start reading it in the first or second week of March.
I’d heard of Communities of Practice as a theory before, but hadn’t seen the book! It looks really interesting. Also came across the author’s more recent work on the “value creation framework” in this blog post: https://wenger-trayner.com/resources/planning-and-evaluating-social-learning/
Lot’s to dig into there, but on first read what’s really striking to me is the parallels to some of the assessment work I was doing. One of the problems we faced was how to design an assessment that wouldn’t fall prey to Goodhart’s Law. One solution was to assess whether someone learned something by whether they created something of value to the field. (Of course this punts on the question a bit, now you’re asking how to measure value). This kind of approach seems to resonate with Wenger-Trayner’s value-creation framework, where they’re looking at the various ways learning creates value for the learner.
All that being said, would be v into a group read of Communities of Practice!