We all remember Maxim Gorky, Rabindranath Tagore, Ernest Hemingway, James Watt, Thomas Alva Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Wright Brothers as some of the few people who left their mark in the world but do you also know that all of them were partially or wholly self-taught. They did not rely completely on the education that school had to offer. These kinds of people are called autodidacts. Here is a list of such people, try and see how many you already know.
It was very beautifully penned down by the American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, Mark Twain as “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Here are some proven techniques and effects which can radically change the way you learn things.
1. The Pomodoro Technique:
© Fractus Learning
A technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s to help you focus your attention over a short period of time. Pomodoro is an Italian word for tomato and is called so because Francesco used a tomato-shaped timer while practising this technique. Traditionally, the timer is set to 25 minutes, but you may vary it slightly according to your needs. Now, once the timer starts ticking, you are not allowed to sneak off to web surf or chat on the phone. So, the thought is, for those 25 minutes you need to focus on the process and not on the product. You will be tempted by distractions but you will be pleased with how easy it is to get your attention back.
2. The Feynman Technique:
© Ace Tutors
The Feynman technique has been named after Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. This technique demands people come up with a simple metaphor or analogy to help them grasp the essence of an idea. You may relate to it if you try to remember that you learned a concept better when you taught it to someone else. You can use the Feynman technique to understand the ideas that you do not really get or to remember those which you understand but forget on the day of the test.
Follow these steps:
Choose a topic
Try to pretend that you are teaching this idea to a new student.
When you get stuck at some point, go back to your reference material.
Simplify the language and concept and create analogies to grasp the concept better.
3. The Memory Palace Technique:
Remember Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ using the mind palace technique to capture and trace a lot of information in his head? This technique basically involves calling to mind a familiar place like the layout of your workplace which you can use as a visual notepad where you can deposit concept images that you want to remember. You can use it to remember a long list. For example, sin cos and tan theta formulas can be remembered as “some people have curly brown hair through proper brushing” to remember that sin theta is equal to perpendicular upon hypotenuse and respectively for cos and tan theta. It can still be difficult to remember this but it becomes much easier if you also add the memory palace to it. Like, Some people like Rahul have curly…You get the idea.
4. The Hard-Start-Jump-To-Easy-Technique:
Students are often advised to start with an easy question so that they do not get demotivated at the starting phase of the test, but this is not the best practice. Instead, start with a difficult problem and if you get stuck, quickly switch to the easier once. Then get back to the difficult problem again. Now, this switch activates your diffuse and focused modes which are very important to solve the most difficult problems in your test sheet.
5. The Einstellung Effect:
© Central Coffee
It is a kind of mindset which restricts us to a repeated use of tried and true strategies to solve any problem, even though a simpler strategical solution exists. Now, if you observe this carefully, it is a big problem. It makes you look like a zombie and you tend to develop a mechanical state of mind. You lose creativity while solving the problem with a different technique. You can still mitigate its effect by following these steps:
Remind yourself of the effect to be consciously aware.
Enter your boketto mode. Try gazing at the sky without thinking anything. It gives your mind a break.
Adopt a beginner’s mindset.
6. The Testing Effect:
This technique helps in improving long-term memory, often with the help of retrieving information that you once learned. This improvement in knowledge because of test taking is known as the testing effect. Testing basically strengthens and stabilises the related neural patterns in your brain and you can practice it using flash cards and by getting feedback from others.
So, the next time you learn a topic and if you don’t get it at once, try remembering the main points you have learned and then get back to the revision process. The same goes when you leave a problem half solved, thinking you know the complete solution when you actually don’t. To strengthen your neural patterns you must take enough tests on a regular ibasis.
Now, according to the Law of Serendipity: Lady luck favours the one who tries. So, start practising some of these techniques to overcome many of the problems you face while learning a new subject.