I know someone here has a child who needs to learn something; some other persons need this knowledge for themselves, doing this assignment will have an impact on my learning experience as well as the learning experience of those who read this.
I am attending a MOOC on “Learning how to Learn” by Barbara Oakley and Terence Sejnowski on Coursera, this is a final project for me, which is to teach you at least 3 of the topics I learnt from the class, I have decided to pick out the concepts that will be relevant to you not only as an academic work but also as a tangible contribution to our present level of understanding.
The 3 topics I have picked are Procrastination, Focused and Diffuse thinking, Sleep and Illusion of Learning.
Procrastination is more common than we think it is, I reviewed the work of 6 of my peers during a peer-to-peer assessment and I noticed all of them have the problem of procrastination in common.
what do you think causes procrastination? And does every human being face the temptation of procrastination? You will find out before the end of this article.
Sleep is usually misunderstood to be a waste of time but this project will explain to you better the role of sleeping when it comes to learning.
Focused and Diffuse thinking can be likened to the two hemisphere of the brain and how they function and relate with each other. Read with me to the end to find out how it affects you.
Why does procrastination happen? Procrastination happens because we want to “over-achieve” in as little time as possible, and this makes a huge demand on our emotional strength, mental strength and Will-Power and the painful truth is most people cannot afford that “cheque” the ego is writing; so instead of doing that painful task our brain signals an emotional “white flag”, our brain subtly surrenders and it disguises the cowardice with good excuses and we postpone important tasks, because we are hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, we divert our attention to our areas of interest.
We now know what causes procrastination, the next question is: how do we tackle this huge problem that prevents success?
Barbara Oakley taught us various techniques, one of which is the Pomodoro technique, the Pomodoro is Italian name for Tomato, but the Pomodoro technique is about using a Pomodoro ( a plastic timer device shaped like a tomato) to stay focused on a task for 25 minutes after which you rest and then you reward yourself for staying intensely focused on that task for that 25 minutes. It is an effective technique of learning and there is an app for it online, you may check your online store.
The second technique is process vs product, we are in a fast world, everything is fast, from fast food to fast cars, we have transferred this attitude to how we want to achieve our goals and success; we want to be become chiseled and ripped in as little time as possible, we want to lose weight as fast as possible. Having this kind of mentality is not bad by itself but it causes enormous frustration and procrastination. How do we solve this problem? We get a task list and make it process-based, we break down the big goal into tiny bits of daily task that are not too overwhelming for the brain, we make sure we write the task down in the evening before we sleep, so that the subconscious (Barbara called it “assigning the zombies to work”) can be focused on the task and simplifies it before you wake up the next morning. By morning we do the most unpleasant tasks first, that was what Barbara Oakley called “eating your frog in the morning,” and then you attach cues and rewards to each of the task.
I discovered this last technique when I started using my task-list, I found out that, each time I started doing the task I had planned to do, I got so carried away that I would want to do more than what is in my task-list, I saw this as a pitfall, we emphasize on integrity when it comes to others but when it comes to the person that matters most we disrespect our deal; how do you expect to trust yourself tomorrow if you did not keep your word to yourself yesterday? If you desire to over-achieve, show some respect and incorporate it in your next day’s plan.
FOCUSED AND DIFFUSE MODE OF THINKING.
The focused mode of thinking deals with the left hemisphere of the brain that deals with logic, judgment and reasoning. The left brain is a dominant, critical and realistic part of the brain that hold you to high standard of perfection and meaning while the diffused mode of thinking deals with the right hemisphere of the brain, the right brain is the creative brain, it is submissive to the left brain criticisms; the access to the right brain is one of the hall marks of geniuses, as we were taught by Barbara, geniuses like Newton would hold on to an object while they were about to sleep, as the object falls from their hand due to sleepiness they immediately get to work because they know they are in the diffused mode of thinking and most of their breakthrough were achieved through the diffuse mode of thinking.
Have you ever tried to remember something so much or tried solving a problem and no matter how much you tried you could not get a solution but maybe you forgot about it and you were doing another task like jogging or taking a shower and then you remember or get solution to the problem, the diffuse mode of thinking brought the solution.
SLEEP AND ILLUSION OF LEARNING.
Lack of sleep not only makes you less efficient, it has been linked to many diseases and disorder.
We were taught that sleeping is part of learning because, while you sleep, the brain repairs itself and eliminates toxins and cognitive clogs from the brain; have you ever wondered why you have fresh perspective immediately you wake up? Ever wondered why business moguls have notepad and pen beside their beds? While we are asleep, the brain does not sleep, it goes to work on complex issues you dealt with during the day; that is why some chess players dream about the game they played while they were awake. Sleep is good for you.
Illusion of learning is when you study and you have the confidence that you can recall because it seems so familiar, we learn by action, testing, practicing and failing. We learn and grow when we are outside our comfort zone.
It is ineffective to read a material over and over at the same learning session, instead we should space out our learning session. We will be better off to recall and remember than someone who binged on it like a “mindless zombie”, because we create a stronger neuron link. A picture is worth a thousand words, and images are the language of the mind, we should create visual images of what we are learning in order to have better recall ability of the learnt material. Also practicing and testing is the best technique to be used to avoid illusion of competence.