Think this is a thread worth re-posting – as @zaoyang’s rant packs a lot:
1/ Everyone knows about “deliberate practice” “grit”, but how do you apply these tactically. Physical sports like basketball have drills and habits that you can apply and idols like MJ or Lebron. Are there the equivalent? Meaning what habits do you need to unlearn and learn? https://t.co/6LAF2o4LKv
2/ First, we have to see what people do normally to study subjects. I’ll specifically focus on STEM subjects as the world increasingly become more “technical” for children and adults.
3/ These concepts are with full attribution to @lhtl_mooc, Cal Newport, books about habits of Darwin, books about habits Leonardo Da Vinci, Josh Waitzkin, and there are probably concepts leakage from other books/articles as well.
4/ What people normally do is read the book, highlight chapters, and take quizzes and midterms and depending on their grades, fix a self concept toward whether they are “dumb” or “smart” at different subjects.
5/ These especially damaging as there is a compounding effect with IQ. Meaning what if “intelligent” people are not the genetic freaks like 7′ basketball players but more like Warren Buffett, who financially compounded by reading 8 hours a day.
6/ There has been a lot of research into the genetic correlation with IQ and cancer. Current research has shown that cancer is mostly environmental and people cannot find the full set of genes that “cause” cancer. What is it’s the same with IQ? Anyway, I digress.
7/ The problem with the typical study process is that it doesn’t take advantage of the different modes of your brain: Short term vs long term memory. Diffuse vs Focused mode. Spatial memory vs normal memory. Active recall vs passive reading. Knowledge trees vs plains.
8/ There’s more. Pain of knowledge vs pleasure of facebook. Sleep vs practicing. Metaphor and senses vs passive reading. Embarrassment (imposter syndrome) vs learning. Mindset vs non mindset. Type 1 vs type 2 thinking. Triggers/environment vs bad triggers.
9/ Most people want to study and learn, but that’s not what happens in the short term. Netflix, Facebook, games happen. Just like cigarettes was the biggest blight in the Baby Boomer generations causing cancer. Digital addiction is the biggest blight in current generation.
10/ Everyone thinks of studying as a force of will rather than a habit. Your physical environment provides triggers for your brain so that you will automatically get triggered to depending on whether you feel rewarded (food, netflix, etc.). How do you counter this?
11/ You have to realize that both time (light) and physical location will cause your zombie brain (type 1 thinking) to automatically act. Just like it’s used for judgement, you have to be consciously aware WHERE and WHEN you study and separating it out from entertainment envs.
12/ The implications of this is that “intention” matters. When you sit down to study, you will feel immediate discomfort just like jumping into a cool pool. The idea is to create short term “pleasure” for you. So, read one page to create a sense of accomplishment.
13/ This way you are training yourself to get digitally addicted to your task. Everything is based on momentum. So, the earlier you start your number 1 task. The more this momentum starts downhill and the more you can train yourself to be “addicted” to your own task
14/ As you control your environment the “where” and “when.” You have to be able to study to be able to “practice” for the real world. In basketball, you have a series of drills and real life games to train your intuition (type 1 thinking) and spatial reasoning.
15/ The key thing to realize for your brain is that there are two modes focused mode and diffuse mode and short term and long term memory. What does that mean?
16/ Focused mode is when you’re reading and focused on something. Diffused mode is when you’re daydreaming (walking, showering) where your mind can wander. Most of the creativity research focuses on diffuse mode indicating that you can have insights while you’re in the shower.
17/ In some ways that’s true, but this is a misnomer. It’s alternating between concentration of a specific problem and daydreaming and using your subconscious/unconscious mind (diffuse mode) that creates the insights for your current problem.
18/ Put a different way, you cannot just go off into the woods and wake up discovering DNA or the Great American Novel. You have to alternate between your given problem, take a break, and then work on the problem. That allows the different part of your brain to work.
19/ This key in alternating between diffused and focused mode is what provides insights to complex problems. This is why Da Vinci’s, Salvador Dali, Edison, and Jobs habits look so weird to normal people.
20/ Jobs loved walks talking about problems. Salvador Dali/Edison would work on a problem hold a ball and almost fall asleep so they can use the subconscious mind to solve the problem and wake up so he can remember it.
21/ Da Vinci would sleep every 3 or 4 hours. People thought he was a weirdo, but maybe he’s just alternating between diffused and focused mode.
22/ This process of alternating flushes the short term memory into your long term memory and enables cross pollination between your subconscious and conscious mind.
23/ Besides sleep, walking, and showering. There’s a concrete technique called the Pomodoro Technique that allows for the flushing. The general idea is to study for 25 minutes and rest for 5 minutes (listen to music, breathe, meditate).
24/ The idea is to flush short term to long term memory and use these repeatedly. Normal studying as per my previous tweet cycle through diffused vs focused mode during lunch, a break, and at night (dinner, sleep). This allows you to do it many times throughout the day.
25/ This is probably why @naval always takes his meetings and talks while he walks. Clever guy.
26/ As you study during these 25 minutes, you have to understand the concept about knowledge trees as per @elonmusk This is elaborated in the chapter “Making Smaller Circles” in Art of Learning as well.
27/ The general idea is that most people think of knowledge as a plain or flat space you have to learn. The way to think about knowledge is like a tree, which means that the base knowledge allows other knowledge to flourish.
28/ Why is the important? In Josh Waitzkin’s eyes, most people focus on learning a lot of different forms of punches and memorizing fancy moves. Instead, he focuses on punching a lot until it’s intuitively drilled into him.
29/ This is like practicing basketball by drilling and shooting from the free throw line repeatedly. This means that instead of focusing on all of the tree, make sure you practice “base” level problems with variations of fundamental concepts until it becomes intuitive.
30/ When most people study STEM, they focus on reading, but instead the mind works on sensory and spatial input. Meaning the more variations of problems of base level “fundamental” concepts, the more it gets ingrained into your head.
31/ This is why in Cal Newport’s books, he emphasizes for technical problems repeatedly drilling with as many lecture quizzes, sample midterms as possible. Most people do practice, but it’s the emphasis on distribution of time that he emphasizes.
32/ Meaning liberal arts people read more. Instead: skim the reading, do problems, read, do more difficult problems, and read. This is different than the process of reading, highlighting, quizzing, and midterming I mentioned before which most people do.
33/ This process of doing variations of problems takes advantage of “active recall” process. What is active recall? Generally, any active process that you take in “summarizing” “quizzing yourself” “explaining it to other people” is exponentially better than passive reading.
34/ There has been a backlash against memorization, but it turns out that “highlighting” and “reading” is not active enough to pack your knowledge into long term memory.
35/ Creating notes that you can test yourself by writing concepts or questions on the left margin and concepts in the right margin a la the Cornell Notetaking method is effective if you quiz yourself before the actual quiz or test.
36/ This is why also the “Feynman technique” works, which is teaching other people. This allows you to “summarize” and do “active recall” Why do you think people blog or do tweetstorms? It’s a way of practicing “active recall” as well.
37/ As you do “active recall” what helps you imprint everything toward long term memory? It turns out that knowledge is always in context of other knowledge trees. This is why everything is explained via analogies and metaphors.
38/ As @yevgenydevine mentioned here: https://t.co/yMmWFRwG1w Analogies however silly makes allows you to compound your intellect and bounce to another knowledge tree.
39/ This is why great teachers using mneumonics and analogies. It anchors your concepts in context of other existing knowledge. Menumonics also gets at another point using sensors and spatial memory.
40/ It turns out that sensory and emotionally rich environments (smell, funny, hearing, visual) anchored in spatial knowledge enhances memory. What does this mean? If you remember the concept in a funny “skit” or imagine you hear something, it will greatly help.
41/ It turns out that we our memory comes from the hunter gatherer days and spatial memory is most correlated with mathematics ability: https://t.co/Krdj3vom0F
42/ That’s great trivia but how do you apply it? I’m glad you asked. There is a technique called the memory palace that takes advantage of this. The general idea is to remember a concept by enacting a funny memory in a familiar location.
43/ The general idea is that you can remember something like “bitcoin mining” as gold miner in a gold hat solving rubric puzzles in a corner that’s being based on by other miners in a part of your house near the entrance.
44/ That’s a funny image or story right? It takes advantage of your senses and is spatially located in a given area. It turns out that these are the techniques that people use to memorize pi 3.14159 to 100 digits. Instead of seeing abstract numbers, they see stories.
45/ This allows you to hack your brain to do things that it’s not designed to do, which is learn abstract concepts and build on top of these abstract concepts in a knowledge tree.
46/ So, what is the implication of this in order to become an expert you have to overcome the fear of being an imposter and embrace loss. Embrace quizzing yourself over and over and embracing the process not the result.
47/ Most people psych themselves out thinking through horror stories on how their lives will be over, but instead they should focus on the process, take long breathes (reduce stress), think through quizzes and other parts as a process of learning.
48/ If you take any lessons from olympic athletes, it means that you need to simulate your local environment like the “testing” situation. Which means quiz or test yourself with noise and other distracting things that you expect to happen.
49/ That way you can get inoculated toward what actually happens. Olympic athletes, navy seals all work on a principle of “progressive desensitization.” Why can’t this be applied to mental items?
50/ As you apply this over and over. Then concepts become intuitive/zombie mode (type 1) and your type 2 thinking (focused mode) can allow you the base of your knowledge to be things that you can easily recall just like how you can read or add 1+1.
51/ In conclusion, the tactics of learning is important. Just learning that people studied 10,000 hours via deliberate practice is not useful. Grit is important but how do you do things so you don’t get discouraged over a longer time?
52/ These are the tactical things that you can use to ingrain as habits. Diffuse vs focused mode. Place and time for studying. Memory palace vs normal memorization. Passive reading vs “active recall, summarization, and explaining it to other people” Do you have any more tactics?