Learning How To Learn: How to Change Your Life

What if certain skills were more important to learn than others? What if learning one skill made learning other skills easier? What if we could change learning from just being a chore that we feel we HAVE to do and instead turned it into something that we WANT to do? This article looks at some of the changing environment in learning and education and how those create an opportunity for a new kind of learning.

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Learning how to learn is arguably the most important skill any individual can learn. While I said that choosing to believe is the single greatest factor in whether you can make a change, learning is the thing that will allow you to implement that change. Learning lets you acquire any skill from reading to cooking to even physical skills such as playing sports or carpentry. But most people are never taught Meta Learning, or learning how to learn.

I don’t claim to be an expert at Meta Learning yet, but I have studied and continue to study the fields of skill acquisition, mastery, and expertise for over a decade. For those who have never heard of these topics I want to present a couple of strategies for how to make yourself more productive and give glimpses into what learning to learn and education could look like with a changing world.

Meta Learning Skills

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When it comes to learning most people naturally have some base skills that are found in most forms of formal education such as reading, writing, math, and science skills. These skills are great and actually form the basis of other skills, making improvements in these skills exponentially beneficial. What I mean by that is if you were to improve one of these skills, it would make learning others skills potentially easier or reduce the learning of others skills, or attributes for more of the necessary daily tasks that you use.

Take learning to read as an example of a learning skill. Even for people who call themselves non-readers, most jobs require some form of reading whether paper or electronic. Similarly if you’re own your phone scrolling Facebook and come across any text, including really awesome and sharable articles about learning, you are reading. Therefore, if you were to improve that skill it would help you with something you’re already doing.

But what would it look like to improve that skill? If you were to focus on improved reading skills you could experiment with some of the following skills to improve both reading and learning skills:

  • learn to read faster
  • learn to increase reading comprehension
  • learn better memory input and recall techniques to more easily and accurately use what you read later
  • Learn to create more organized mental models, such as creating analogy catalogs or mind palaces for creating better inter-related concepts
  • Learning to synthesize what you read into your own original thoughts

By learning to read in a way that makes reading more efficient for consuming or recalling, people would be able to learn most skills faster. Similar learning skills could include things such as typing, asking better questions, writing, logical arguments and fallacies, scientific methods or frameworks.

Future of Learning?

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With the internet making access to information easier than at any previous time in history, we are just now starting to tap into some of the ways that education and learning will change over time. We’re already starting to see websites offering specific skills. We’re also seeing multiple online platforms that are positioning themselves to replace school classrooms and public and private education systems. But we don’t really know what education will look like moving forward, especially when education is typically tied up in more political matters.

While I won’t pretend to know the answer of how to best help every single individual in the world learn better, I do think there are a couple of trends have already started to show up:

  1. Teaching practical skills in a simple and easily accessible platform will always be a valued priority.
  2. The learning/education marketplace will choose winners and losers of what is good and bad ways to teach certain skills, ideas, theories, etc.
  3. More individualized education plans will take shape allowing individuals to choose their teachers, topics of study, related experiences and skills.

What do these trends mean though? I personally think it means that students in this next generation will have the ability to learn like no generation has ever had the opportunity before. But some people will try to regulate and hoard the information for either personal gain, because they don’t actually understand the change, or to try to shape the narrative of what is taught.

Why does any of this matter?

Learning matters because everyday we as humans are learning. What we are learning is the interesting part. Obviously when we learn something new we are learning whatever that thing is. But we are also learning other things daily as well. We are reinforcing or relearning patterns and behaviors constantly. Have you ever caught yourself in an almost day dream like state doing something out of habit? Maybe it is going on your daily commute and realizing you don’t really remember the last few blocks but somehow you got there just fine. Or maybe it’s finding that spot in that couch that you sit in every day so it’s conformed to your body.

These habits are things that make creating change in life both easier and harder. When we know that the patterns exist, it becomes easier to make changes, but that’s not to say change is easy. Typically relearning to do something can feel harder than learning to do something completely new. If you write with your right hand predominantly, then learning to write with your left hand could feel frustrating. But if you’ve never juggled a day in your life, then when you are able to juggle for 3 seconds for the very first time you have nothing to compare it to and you’ll feel so accomplished.

This blog hopes and aims to continue to teach and help people learn and as the author I plan to continue to learn more and more. Hopefully this article has piqued your curiosity into some of the many wonders of learning. If it did please leave a comment on something you learned or have been inspired to learn more about. If you have a clue of what education will look like in the future please leave a comment. If you want to discuss skills that you think could improve learning and create a community with other people interested in learning, please leave a comment.

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