How much do I want to read more? 7/10
Surprisingly a nice balanced set of advice condensed in a short book, that gives different perspectives to learn faster and better.
(Still, the use of "Einstein" in the title is purely commercial)
I wanted to impress Jessica from Spanish class.
I began to study and learn Spanish so she would have all the more reason to continue turning around and talking to me. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the proper motivation for it, and I probably became fluent more quickly than anyone in the class that year.
Most of the time in life, we don’t have this type of motivation that drives us to achievement. Most of the things we learn or study for, we drag our feet towards. It’s not a pleasure, and it’s more of a chore. Studying and learning isn’t typically fun.
Chapter 1. Shattering Myths
Myth #1: Innate intelligence matters in learning
Your overall intelligence and learning ability is truly measured by far more factors that can ever be seen in any test results.
Myth #2: Failure is bad
Allowing someone to fail, even when you can easily help them, is great for learning as well.
Simply giving someone the answer and making sure they never fail is massively detrimental to their learning. It robs us of the critical thinking and analysis that we need to learn better. The struggle for answers is what truly aids our sense of learning.
failure is best when learners have the opportunity to elaborate on what they are doing and thinking.
When you can narrate what you’re doing, instead of toiling away in silence, it can help shed light on your efforts because you’re actively thinking about what you’re doing and analyzing it. Often, thinking out loud leads to solutions that wouldn’t have appeared otherwise.
failure is best when learners have the chance to compare solutions that work, and solutions that don’t. This is what happens when you aren’t shown the exact path every single time.
Myth #3: If you forget, you lose
Everything we hear or see is headed towards the road of forgetting until we realize that we need or want the information
Myth #4: More is better
You’ve no doubt seen this in action with people who study all day and night, and cram the night before the exam as well.
Studies have shown that a concept known as spaced repetition is far more effective for learning and memory than daily rote memorization.
This means the brain is like a muscle, and it simply needs time to recover and make neural connections for the information that you’ve consumed. It also means that if you overdo it and burn out, you are wasting time by attempting to learn more than your brain can handle at the time.
memorization versus understanding and analysis, the latter of which is what will help information stick in your brain the best. More isn’t better; smarter is better.
Myth #5: “I’m just a left-brain person!”
Both brain hemispheres are involved in almost every single mental process
Chapter 2. Foundations for Better Learning
When you believe that you will face struggle and require work to reach a level of proficiency in anything, you can imagine how this affects the way you learn and grow comfortable outside of your comfort zone.
A growth mindset creates the optimistic belief that you can achieve just about anything with hard work and time.
the pyramid of learning:
- You retain 5% when you hear a lecture
- 10% when you read
- 20% from audio visual processing
- 30% from demonstrating [this and up are demonstration methods]
- 50% from group discussion [this and below are participatory methods]
- 75% from practice by doing
- 90% from teaching others
The more you proactively process and participate in the analysis of information, the better you will retain and learn it.
The more passively you intake information without a second thought, the less you will retain and learn.
If you want to learn more about the history of Spain, you might learn a good deal just from passively processing the information.
However, imagine how much more you would gain if you practiced rehearsing a speech about Spanish history that was meant to teach your co-workers.
The attention and energy we can put toward learning is our most valuable resource because it’s the most limited.
In a sense, a lumberjack can only chop the tree in front of him or her, and can’t do anything with a bunch of half-chopped trees.
Chopping the tree in front of you will allow you to make better progress on everything more than actively working on it while multi-tasking. It’s counterintuitive yet true.
You can impose a “one-touch” rule, which means the first time you see or touch a task is the moment you take care of it to completion.
productive procrastination: when we suddenly feel the need to vacuum our carpets or clean our bathrooms right when we have real work to do.
Think of your attention like a muscle. You can’t overwork it, and there is a limit as to what you can do with it on a daily basis.
You can also train it to be bigger and better, and there are certain things that improve and discourage it. You can give it breaks and you can also recharge it.
The biggest takeaway should be that your attention is a limited quantity. You have to preserve it for the tasks that you need to get done. Whether this means saving it by avoiding other tasks, or preemptively removing temptation for your attention from your surroundings, you need to treat it like a battery that runs down throughout the day.
The four levels of competency are:
- Unconscious competence – We have incorrect intuition about what we’re learning because we don’t understand it at all.
- Conscious incompetence – We have incorrect analysis about what we’re learning, because we only know some of the ground rules.
- Conscious competence – We have correct analysis but not habits or intuition yet, as we’re only getting started with successful application of the ground rules.
- Unconscious competence – We have correct intuition about the future because we have seen and analyzed the application of the ground rules enough that we can understand what will happen before it happens.
Be aware that unconscious competence is where some people start from, and it’s dangerous because they typically make terrible teachers because of their inability to explain their reasoning not based on a gut feeling.
learning process in a nutshell:
- Achieve or fail
- If you fail, analyze failure
- Go to step one.
Where this process can go wrong is the following:
- Achieve or fail
- If you fail, analyze failure incorrectly or fail to correct actions.
- Go to step one.
Chapter 3. Know and Understand Thyself
What that means is to know and understand exactly how you learn and process information the best.
You might feel stuck in one way, only to shift to another medium and discover that it works much better for you.
The point is to have more ammunition in your learning arsenal.
The VARK Model of Learning
The four types of learning are:
If you have a visual style of learning, it means you prefer to see information so you can actually visualize concepts and how they may or may not connect with others. Try to summarize information in charts, graphs, or even pictures that get the point across in little to no time.
If you have an auditory style of learning, it means you like to hear information rather than see or read it. Hearing is the best way for you to process information because it allows you to process that information simultaneously with your own internal train of thought. Reciting information out loud is also helpful because it’s an active and conscious act, not like when others do it.
To work best, record people as much as possible, including yourself, and think out loud to find your conclusions.
If you have a reading and writing style of learning, you prefer to interact with text and manipulate it.
Reading over notes and making summaries of those notes will work best for you, and tactics such as mindmaps also help, because they clearly allow you to make connections between concepts.
To work best, you should always ask for a written copy, then annotate it yourself with your own notes and thoughts. That way, you can draw your own conclusions and see the evidence right before you.
If you have a kinesthetic learning style, you can’t sit still for a lecture or lesson, and you want to experience the topic at hand.
You need exercises and problems to solve, trivia to name, and worksheets to fill in. This is the epitome of proactive learning, and it’s no surprise that the kinesthetic learning style is effective for many people whether they realize it or not. It forces participation and active analysis, which is best for memory creation and retention. You work best through seeing demonstrations, then doing them for yourself to pick up anything you might have missed otherwise.
The Seven Learning Styles
You’d be best suited to studying nautical maps, graphics, charts, seeing movies, and any other visual media that keeps you from having to solely read or listen.
Aural learners are also known as musical learners.
Aural learners don’t necessarily prefer listening for better learning, they prefer everything that underlies the appeal of their favorite music. Rhythm, patterns, rhyme, and melody. These are the people that will hum incessantly and make songs for themselves to memorize facts and dates.
Verbal learners are also known to be linguistic learners, which means they not only prefer words spoken out loud, they prefer to read as well.
This type of learner has it easy at first glance because most of the information that is readily available is in book or lecture form.
Solitary learners prefer to work alone and process their thoughts by themselves. Everything happens in their own head, and they create their own materials and methods for self-study.
They may interact with others, but when it gets down to the wire, they withdraw into a cave with themselves to make connections for themselves.
When others explain concepts, it just doesn’t have the same impact – they need to think through it step by step for themselves.
They prefer to learn in groups, or with other people, so they can bounce ideas and concepts off them.
They prefer to see variety, breadth, and diversity of opinion.
The logical learner prefers to learn through making logical connections and seeing the underlying systems and reasoning.
This is the type of person that likes math because there is a single correct method that, if followed, will yield a single correct answer.
The physical learner prefers actual, physical stimulation for learning. To touch is to experience, and to experience is to know.
Using their kinesthetic sense cements information because they are tied to strong feelings and emotions.
Sitting stationary in a chair is the worst scenario for this type of learner.
They want to feel, which transmits stronger memories to them.
Chapter 4. Faster and More Efficient Reading
Without a doubt, becoming a better reader is tantamount to becoming better at learning.
What you do with the information after you’ve consumed it is up to you, but you’re still going to start any new learning venture by reading voraciously and consuming as much as possible.
It’s the initial gatekeeper that prevents most people from getting into their learning groove.
The sense of instant gratification is destroyed when you read slowly or ineffectively. Learning about something new will appear to be a boulder of a task.
The first tip to increasing your reading speed is to decrease the sub-vocalizations you use.
It’s a habit that is mostly unnecessary, though is helpful when you want to slow down for increased comprehension.
The second tip to reading fast is to practice reading more than one word at a time.
Start with reading two words together at once.
When you get comfortable with two words at once, you can move onto three and four words, until you can look at a sentence that is ten words and reduce it to the two five-word phrases it contains. That’s the end goal: to be able to synthesize phrases like you would individual words.
The third tip on speed reading is to improve your visual focus.
The simple way to improve your visual focus when reading is to use a placeholder or pointer, such as an index card, pencil, or even your finger.
The underlying idea is most of these books and articles tend to only have one or two big, relevant ideas, tops.
The rest is usually case studies, anecdotes, speculation, or digressions.
Your job with reading is to find those one or two big, shiny ideas and try to cut out the rest of the clutter. This means you don’t actually need to read a book or article from beginning to end.
The first step is to spend three minutes simply skimming the book’s front and back covers, the table of contents, and summary of the book. Think of this as pre-reading the book, and in fact, you just might be able to get everything out of the book in this step.
The second step is to spend roughly seven minutes skimming the book again, but in more depth. This is when you read the two paragraphs of each chapter to find the big ideas of each chapter, and the big pieces of evidence that support the big ideas. If you see a story or anecdote coming, that’s a cue to skip ahead because they are usually only for illustration.
The third step is to spend twenty minutes reading specific sections of the book in greater detail. You should know the big ideas from the book already, and you are now looking for clarification and what each chapter adds to the big ideas.
Then, finish this step by synthesizing what you’ve read and summarize it in five main bullet points, with three bullet points under each – tops.
Retaining more of what you read is easier than people think. The problem is that most people see reading as a fairly passive activity. As in, they can just sit back and read, and somehow the information will stick in their memory banks.
That’s not quite how it works, and for better memory retention and comprehension, you need to make reading a proactive task. The best type of reading is when you read with a purpose because that will keep you focused and alert as to the information in front of you.
Reading with a purpose also turns you into an asker of questions, which is paramount. After every chapter, page, or even long paragraph, there are a series of questions you can be asking yourself to make sense of the information, and make more connections in a participatory manner.
- How does this point relate to the chapter or book in general?
- What did I just learn?
- Why does this matter?
- What are the shortcomings of this?
- What is the counter-argument of this?
- What was necessary for this to occur?
- What is a one-sentence summary of what I just read?
If you are able to actively process these thoughts even occasionally throughout your reading, you will retain far more because the information isn’t just a set of facts anymore.
One of the best ways to synthesize and retain information better is to try to predict what happens next, or what happens as a consequence of what you’ve just read.
Finally, to retain more when you read, start from the end. Don’t read backwards, but read and review in a different order than how you initially consumed the information. For a book, start from the final points of the last chapter and work your way to the introduction. For an article or study, work your way from the conclusion back to the introduction. What’s the point of this?
When you continually read something in the same order, you’re creating tread marks in the mud.
When you read out of order and generally approach information from different contexts and angles, you dramatically increase the retention rate, because it’s suddenly a three-dimensional picture instead of a flat set of facts.