Learning is my focus in life, I do it for fun and for work. Here I want to explain how I approach learning.
Why we (should) learn
To get something.
Maybe we enjoy the process our we endure it to finally be able to communicate 5 minutes in a foreign language. When we learn, we understand something. When we understand something we can do something with it. If we choose the right things to learn any apply our lives get better. If learning changes not our behavior and if we don’t have a better outcome than before… have we even learned anything?
Here is an example:
Andrej and Tim are both young adults working in IT, struggling on their first Programming Job.
- Andrej chooses to learn some programming concepts in the programming language he works with in his spare time
- Tim chooses to learn french in his spare time
Who is likely to be better of at work, all other things being equal? Of course Andrej.
Let’s look into the implications:
- Andrej has over time a simpler time at work, after a few months he becomes a decent programmer for the short time he is in the company and receives respect from his co-workers
- Tim develops his skills much slower and becomes the person everyone is annoyed to work with – but he can no say ‘How much costs this Croissant?’ in french.
It’s funny to look at if told to densely, but I see people make this errors time over time: Learning something worthless, while letting something worthwhile slip away. It could be anything. Also: Life is about balance. Maybe you are too much in front of screens and become thus socially awkward? Go to a martial arts class to learn to use your body, go out and talk to people… etc. etc.
What we’ve been not taught in school
Why is that? We’ve been NOT taught to value exploration and creation in school. We learn to learn subject x because someone said we have to, real-life application is normally not part of our education. School Learning is tedious and of questionable worth, or as many people say: Learning happens in real life.
This is the pattern of school learning:
- Theory – Theory – Theory – Theory – Theory – Theory – Exam (…) – that’s the way presented in school and it’s inefficient
also it’s the way Tim in our example learns, he learns but get nothing out of it.
This is what I use and what is the solution:
- Theory – Hacking around – revisiting theory – Hacking around (…) – that’s how I learn
Say you want to learn to code in Python. You can immediately type stuff into a web-environment even without any theory whatsoever. Quickly you have an error, say you wanted to type in ‘Hello World’. But this is not how it is done, you google and find out you need to write print(‘Hello World’) – now it runs. THIS is how you learn. This hacking-method works especially good with programming, but also with math and natural languages like french. But you can also find ways to test yourself with self-written questions next time or you gather information to ask someone knowledgeable a worthwhile question.
For more on the Hacker-Attitude (NOT Cracker-Attitude) I can recommend you Eric Raymond: