A Quick Manual to Turn You Into an Effective Learner for Life
It’s not what you’ve learned at uni.
I took ownership of my learning 16 months ago.
I produced 93 podcast episodes, wrote 33 newsletters, published 250 articles, created 13 websites, and hosted 27 workshops.
In the process, I learned more than in the five years of my Bachelor's and Master's studies.
Schools and unis work towards a purpose of education that was created a century ago. Most of them aren't built on the insights from neuroscience. Students mostly move at the same pace, using the same means.
Effective learning doesn't happen while you listen to a lecturer.
Effective learning requires a different state of mind.
Don't wait for education systems to change.
You can take charge of your own learning.
This article will give you a lens to look at learning and five actionable ideas to get you started today.
How You Can Conquer the Pyramid's Peak
When you read through educational theories, a couple of concepts plop up again and again: Piaget's constructivism, Skinner's behaviorism, Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences.
But there's one theory I keep coming back to — Bloom's taxonomy.
Around 1956, educational psychologist Bloom and his colleagues did a couple of studies. Their goal was to determine factors that affect how students learn.
Teachers' ability to individualize instruction was among the key factors they found.
Bloom and his research friends wanted to help teachers individualize learning. They came up with a so-called taxonomy.
This taxonomy is a hierarchical model that ranks learning objectives. On the bottom, you find the simple ones, on top the most complex goals.
A quick caveat: There are a couple of things flawed with this theory. When you look at the pyramid, you might think that you need to climb each step to reach the top. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Learning is no linear process.
You don't start at the bottom to move to the top.
The levels mentioned are interdependent, and you can start right at the top.
For example, the generation effect shows you remember information better once you create your own version of the material (according to this meta-analysis across 86 studies).
You don't have to remember before you can create. You can remember because you create. While you create, you'll also continue to analyze, apply, and understand.
27 Prompts to Become a More Effective Learner
Bloom's theory got one thing right most schools and universities still haven't: Learning is best when it's active.
Creation is the essence of effective learning.
Instead of highlighting or taking notes, it's much more effective to write, animate, draw, build, blog, or produce your own material.
“We have to apply and create in order to understand. The creation process is where we construct deep understanding,” educator Ron Berger writes.
“When I was a classroom teacher and my students were unusually successful, people often asked me what made my classroom different. One difference was basic: my students spent much of the day making things, not sitting and listening.”
Create your version of whatever you want to learn, and you'll steepen your learning curve. Here's the pyramid's top with 21st-century creation prompts I created for you:
To make the most of what you consume, you want to become a creator.
Here's an example from a student that created her own interpretation of Bloom's taxonomy against Harry Potter movies (yes, it's meta).
Four Actionable Ideas to Accelerate Your Learning
Whenever you tackle your next task, remember your learning is most effective when you create things.
Here are a couple of actionable things you can do to accelerate your learning:
- Sign-up to Convertkit (or any other e-mail provider) and start a bi-weekly newsletter about a topic you want to learn. Take the readers with you on your learning journey.
- Pick up your phone (or any other recording device) and record a 30-day video vlog about the habit you're building. Sparkle in some self-researched background information once in a while.
- Sign-up to Buzzsprout (or any other hosting platform) and run your learning podcast. Do monthly interviews with thought leaders within your niche. Podcasts are the best excuse to book time with people you look up to.
- Create a Medium account and publish twice a month. Write about what you've learned from books you read, conversations you had, or things you learned in your job.
Whatever you do, keep in mind learning is no static pyramid.
It's the fuel that enables you to live the life of your dreams.
Even if you have the best mentors and teachers — they can only offer you the tools and a system. You are responsible for effective learning. Start today.
Want to feel inspired and improve your learning?
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Age of Awareness
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