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Is it possible to learn how to learn, and if so, how?

During my educational days I was never actually taught how to learn, obviously this is a bit of a catch 22 question, but after reading books that teach tricks of the memory, and with a higher understanding of how the brain works, would it not be possible to teach people how to learn thereby giving an autonomy to the student, who may then go out and specify their own curriculum?

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    Jul 9 2013: You better believe you can "learn how to learn". I'm gonna tell you how right now. Practice, practice, practice, just like finding Carnegie Hall. Brain science tells us, that every time one performs any task, riding a bicycle, reading a book, playing cards, skiing down a mountain, eating an ice cream cone, new (neurons) are being constructed into networks, bundles, they process (previously encountered stimuli), and now must process the (new information) encountered in the (new experience). As the brain processes stimuli from the new environment, or activity, it must deliver the response to those (developing new muscle tissue), in the (new sequence) to (new cells). I often tell kids to think of plants growing toward the light as an analogy. It's a (constant feed back construction process) of muscle tissue, and neuron tissue.What ever you do towards the end product of information gathering will strengthen the neuron pathways to process more information and more and more. Given enough (nutrients),(rest) and (repetition) and absence of pathology one can learn just about anything.
  • Jul 8 2013: I am not a scholar or anything on this subject, but I am avid reader and I have read a beautiful book "The Practicing Mind" by Thomas M. Sterner ( ) , on this topic. He lays out a simple but an effective way of understanding of how learning happens and how it can be improved. Even though the underlying concepts are age old and complex, he puts some of the simple methods that can followed and applied in every day life. It helped me a lot honestly.
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    Jul 7 2013: Lot to say about this but suffice it to say learning and looking are the same thing.

    You appear to have the required prerequisite of knowing that you don't know which is a common impediment to not looking.

    Second thing I would say is stay interested and do not become interesting.
    • W T

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      Jul 7 2013: "stay interested and do not become interesting."

      Priceless Pat....
  • Jul 6 2013: It's not the setting Oliver is tackling, but I used to help teams "learn"...:

    For adults, it's rather a matter of:
    - Discarding assumptions (mostly outside their professional field of expertise), than improving sheer knowledge;
    - "Joining brains", than solving problems in isolation.

    As a general approach to learning, I'd suggest to differentiate among three different ways of learning:
    - Type 1: gathering new information;
    - Type 2: paradigm change as a specific unforeseen event;
    - Type 3: Repetitive / continuous, voluntary / purposeful paradigm change.

    I view intelligence as the capability of (plastically) changing "representations", i.e. how all the information gathered so far in time is organized "after" vs. "before" the latest bit of information is received (cfr. learning type 3).
    And it's not the "processing" of the information that makes intelligence, but the capability of "storing" it in a plastically changing organized way.

    How to teach this...? Well, it's not straightforward, or trivial.
    I duly "provoke people to rethink". Maybe it works with youngsters, too.

    Incidentally, "learning to learn" is Edgar Morin's "method".
  • Jul 4 2013: desire to learn is the only thing necessary. if there is no desire, let them sleep. they will awaken one day in their own one teaches a flower to open.
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      Jul 6 2013: "no one teaches a flower to open." - two thumbs up.

      However, my 15-year-old can sleep till 2pm and still wake up without any desire to go to school or do homework. I have a plant that had flowers when our friend gave it to us last year. I planted the bulb in the yard this year, the leaves grew up, but there are no flowers. I think, I planted it too late. Sometimes, flowers never open. They may need the right conditions.
      • Jul 6 2013: :-)
        I was the same at 15.....thus, the only prodding I received from my parents was to get a job. My sleep patterns changed shortly thereafter......and I began to see the connections between education & work.
  • Jul 3 2013: Check out this wiki;

    "Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information." (from wiki)

    Apply the above definition to the process of learning to your example of reading books on learning.

    Did the books add to your knowledge?

    Did they change your behaviors, increase your skills, change your values or alter your preferences?

    Did they help or hurt how you learn?

    Did what you learned improve your general intelligence and capacity to learn new things?

    Did what you learn change your level of curiosity about learning?

    Did what you learn change your level of awareness about a subject?

    I think the answer to the first part of your question is 'yes' and the answer to the second part is to increase your understanding of the influential factors associated the process of learning, as well as your general knowledge.

    This could be a change to behaviors (lack of sleep, abuse of drugs, poor diet), try to understand how and why the authors of what you read believe that what they put forward is truth. How did they reach their conclusions? Do you understand the method they applied? What makes one author's opinion on a subject better than another author's opinion? Do you agree with his reasoning?

    How does what the author puts forward line up with your own values?

    Gradually increasing independent study for students until they are autonomous learners is a good plan. However, we need parents, teachers, and authors to initially guide them through the basics and synthesize for them to allow them to take advantage of prior knowledge and lessons learned.
  • Jul 10 2013: My opinion is that the quest of every student - at least, a hard-working one - is to learn how to learn. This sort of thinking can sound a little optimizer, but also includes that we, as students, have to improve step-by-step: a new concept learned can be used to learn another one and, for me, is how the "knowledge network" happens. It's possible to learn how to learn, however, the way we do it is very specific, because different things make different senses for different people.
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    Jul 10 2013: I sincerely think it is possible to learn how to learn. But also, I think this is very specific for each other, depending on the issue the subject is trying to learn and the experience of the subject with the issue. Associating things, for me, works perfectly. But this my way of learning. Other people think differently from me. So, I think it's some sort of self knowledge that's behind learning how to learn and, also, that it works specifically for each person. And I think everyone can learn everything, even if, for some, it is more difficult. Nothing is impossible to learn( it includes learning how to learn hehe)
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    Jul 8 2013: A fascinating question. Given the many kinds of learning there are, I don't think it's a catch-22! As a scientist, the most important thing I ever learned was... how to learn:

    How to study: specific tactics to absorb and retain new facts
    How to observe: art classes in how to carefully observe the world and notice new things
    How to conduct a scientific experiment: training in how to rigorously test a hypothesis to learn a fact no one has yet learned

    I think the giving students autonomy should be the goal of every teacher, but not only by teaching memorization skills - also problem-solving skills, creative thinking skills, organizational skills, tactics to improve self-motivation and self-esteem, and the experience of being thrilled to learn something new. With confidence and a hyper-diverse skill set (and this relates back to the many mentions here of Sugata Mitra), students are then best empowered to chase down and take command of any kind of new knowledge on their own, no teacher required.
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      Jul 9 2013: So true!! ........"Everybody is a genius........but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree...... it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid".
      • Jul 9 2013: My dear Juliette, I want to reply with B.Bettelheim's words: "I genitori devono avere (o imparare ad avere) fiducia nel figlio e raggiungere la certezza interiore che il loro figliiolo riesca bene nella vita. Un genitore quasi perfetto non deve avere fiducia soltanto in sè e nel mondo in cui vive, ma anche nel figlio...è la fiducia che noi mettiamo nei suoi confronti che fa sorgere nel bambino un senso personale di fiducia in se stesso e nelle proprie capacità".
        Se posso commentare direi che i genitori dovrebbero smettere di programmare il destino dei figli -che non sono loro, bensì della vita- al fine di lasciarli liberi di crescere secondo la loro propria vocazione. Thank you.
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          Jul 9 2013: I agree, those are great words...we can do this:)... When we can keep in mind that children are our future, and that they are our hopes and dreams, we should allow them to be who they are. Having confidence in our sons and daughters, and our students, is the way forward.

          Quando siamo in grado di tenere a mente che i bambini sono il nostro futuro, e che sono le nostre speranze e sogni, dovremmo permettere loro di essere quello che sono. Avere fiducia nei nostri figli e figlie, ei nostri studenti, è la via da seguire.

          “You can't teach children to be good. The best you can do for your child is to live a good life yourself. What a parent knows and believes, the child will lean on.”

  • Jul 7 2013: That is the real meaning of being taught...given the tools with which to continue self-education during one's whole lifetime. But one needs to take into consideration common sense and wisdom lest we become robotic factually over-knowledgeable.
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    Jul 7 2013: If you are Earthling, you are born with learning already hardwired and high priority coded in your DNA, so you need no further to look for your teacher than nature. If you are Intelligent life from another galaxy, beam us up ...on a second thought (and after today's google doodle)....just send someone to give us a TED talk about your Planet :):)

    Meanwhile, here's some inspiration from Black (click subtitles in your language and listen to his good words)
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    Jul 7 2013: Brain Science...
    Every time I read about neural plasticity, I think of Vygostky's Social Constructivist Theory. Watch her youtube video linked. It explains her ambition and vision to make the documentary. I so support her in this effort! and it goes right along with your question.
  • Jul 7 2013: The children learns to speak and to count before to go to school. Questo fatto è una fortuna perchè la scuola certamente avrebbe complicato il processo di apprendimento a causa del modo tradizionale di porgere le materie di studio.
    II bambino impara in tanto in quanto è plastico, curioso, disponibile, provando e riprovando seleziona ed accumula l'essenziale. Per imparare ad imparare mancano solo due condizioni: da un lato, occorre incontrare un maestro capace di trasmettere almeno in parte la consapevolezza di una propria testa che lavora;dall'altro è necessario scoprire che se ci si appassiona, ci si interessa, ci si emoziona, si farebbe meno fatica ad imparare e si conserverebbe meglio ciò che si è capito (la memoria è aiutata dallo stato psichico positivo). Thank you
  • Jul 7 2013: Yes, it is possible to learn how to learn. One way to do so is to get a better understanding of how you structure, acquire and retain information. Dr. Lois Breuer Krause developed a system for doing this called a cognitive profile. Her short and highly useful book, How We Learn and Why We Don't explains the method that is based on her research with students, helping them learn. When I discovered her work and applied it to myself a door was unlocked revealing new understanding that helped explain a longstanding mystery which completely changed how I view the world & my place in it. Afterward, I assigned the use of Dr. Krause's method to students taking Intro Psych with great success for them as well. You can learn more about it at Take a look. You might find it helpful.
  • Jul 7 2013: Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment program (FIE) allows every person, beyong age and severity of the deficiency, to improve his or her learning potential.
    Have a look, it's worth it!
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    Jul 6 2013: I believe that self learning is better than the conventional wisdom and learning process. This world and the generation is filled with fast learners with instant access to information sitting in thier pockets in the form of mobile browsers. If one does not know something today, it is most likely becasue they havent taken the inititiative to self education and learn. Ignorance is now almost like a choice. Well, that is for the most part of the world who can afford to own and access a browser.

    We are inquisitive by nature...I guess the difference is in taking the efort to either self educate and form our own opinions or resort to borrowed wisdom and live as per other peoples wisdom and opinions.

    TEDxtalk about this:
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    Jul 6 2013: The secret of learning is humility; knowing that no matter how much you know, there is so much more to learn. We also have our areas of strengths and weaknesses; so focus on your talents, abilities and natural endowments. Seek to know more along these lines.
  • Jul 6 2013: If by this question you mean "is it possible to adopt strategies to improve learning", the answer is yes. In my experience, this involves: (1) developing an understanding of types of learning modalities and models, and (2) assessing which ones my brain is good at.

    There is much written about different learning methods/modalities: (1) learning by being told/rote learning/memorization, (2) learning of concepts by generalization or specialization (given training instances of problems, grasp the principles of the concept, or given the concept to be learned, try and recognize or create new instances, or (3) learning by analogy (which applies several different mechanisms). There's a lot written about these and other learning mechanisms. A lot of work was carried out in the 1980s in the AI research community to discern how humans learned, as the goal was to incorporate human learning mechanisms into machines (machine learning) or to use computers to teach (computer-based training).

    In today's technology, learning packages for languages (e.g., Rosetta Stone) presumably employ different learning methods, and a lot of immersion, to use different parts of the brain to enable efficient and effective learning of concepts (in this case, a foreign language).

    But a key point is that "one size doesn't necessarily fit all" when it comes to learning packages or courses, in that different people--due to their genetics or their environment--either don't have the brain machinery, or these areas are not fully developed. My PhD research advisor had a maxim that I've also used over the years: "train the brain, it's a learning machine".

    I've just provided some background. The quest to be a better lifelong learner is yours. Hope this is helpful. Best of luck.
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    Jul 6 2013: We are born knowing how to learn. Watch Dr Sugata Mitra's talks on how children teach themselves how to use computers. They even taught themselves English to better understand them.

    Maybe what you are talking about is learning some kind of tricks to keep the knowledge in your head for longer?
  • Jul 6 2013: I happen to stumble across this talk by the young and insightful Jacob Barnett, who has some interesting suggestions:
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    Jul 6 2013: Aren't children born with ability to learn? May be, the trick is not to forget the skill?

    Just watch a child learning to walk. She does not know she cannot walk. She does not know she can fall and hurt herself. She just does it.

    Reading all the comments, it appears to me that obstacles to learning are "learned" - fear of learning seems to come from past unpleasant experiences with learning. May be, instead of learning how to learn, we need to "unlearn what we have learned" - the fear, the idea that we are "unable", etc.

    I went to the swimming pool with my kids last weekend. We don't go to swimming pools often - this was, perhaps, third time in the life of my 6-year-old son. He was very excited and eager to go down the water slide, but his first slide ended up splashing into water where his feet did not reach the bottom, and he had hard time keeping his head up, although he had a floatation vest on. I picked him up within a few seconds, but he did not go down that slide again.
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    Jul 4 2013: Learning is such a difficult subject and going to school is not about learning but about parroting and remembering.
    Learning is based on the premises of not knowing, thus discovery is the premises of learning, not ingesting and regurgitating.
    What our society call learning is nothing but brainwashing.
    Learning begins with self-knowledge, self discovery.
    You can know the whole universe, but if you don't know yourself, you are a stranger. To yourself.
    Learning is not about grades and accolades but being free from ignorance.
    Ignorance rules the world at this hour.
    We live in darkness, ruled by thought. Or thought-based consciousness.
    Which is ignorance. We believe thought to be real but it is only a messenger.
    The source is deep, but we are ignorant, we mistake the message for the source.
    And in doing so we live shallow lives.
    Shallow means dissatisfying.
    And then we invent happiness, another word, and we chase it.
    Happiness is the source, the true I AM, not the word I AM.
    But we are afraid that without words we get lost.

    Gospel of Thomas:
    2 Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. 2When
    they find, they will be disturbed. 3When they are disturbed, they will marvel, 4
    and will rule over all."
    3 Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) imperial rule is
    in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. 2If they say to you, 'It is
    in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. 3Rather, the (Father's) imperial rule
    is inside you and outside you. 4When you know yourselves, then you will be
    known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. 5But
    if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the

    Word merely point to something that is preceding experience, consciousness.
    But when words are self-reflective, the loop is closed and the Great Darkness descends..which is the Ego, self-reflective, narcissistic, selfishness embodied.
    Awaken, humans, awaken!
  • Jul 4 2013: Let me tell you my own experience of learning how to learn.
    1. Read whatever books or materials which are of interest to you. Now, in order to read as much as possible, you must train yourself to speed up in reading. You could either use "speed reading" technique, or train your self to a style that you glance over the material you are reading quickly because in an ordinary sentence , there are usually only portion of the words are crucial to the real meaning, the rest are actually just the grammatical or conventional words which are not crucial to the meaning of the entire sentence. Of course you have to be careful if you are editing an article, then you have to examine every word in it, otherwise you don't need to do so.
    2. When you read something involving logical thinking, such as math, proof/justification, etc., you should be able to work out the true or false in your head quickly without write them down in trial-and-error steps. Like a good chess player, you should be able to think at least 3 or 4 steps ahead. If you train yourself to do it routinely, then that will also speed up your pace of learning, as well as facilitate your own learning efficiency.
    3. There is a method of "pattern recognition" which can recognize one thing (mostly shapes) from another. You can extend the pattern recognition on different "shapes" to all kinds of numerical, logical or games when you always try to find patterns for a particular questions or challenges. For example, the spelling and pronunciation of a word almost always follows certain pattern with occasional deviation, so that the spelling bee winners can work out the answers depending not on memories alone. This actually is applicable to all topics in science, technology as well as in humanity and arts. For example an expert in certain field will be able to identify the "author" from only a part of the artwork, or a passage of an essay or music, etc. This ability will help you to "fill" the gaps of many academic activities.
  • Jul 4 2013: I watched the recommended video, it's wonderful isn't it? Almost the concept of being led to learn rather than forced to. Suggest that social dynamic plays a huge role in the willingness to learn. Yet still, I wonder if such techniques as the memory palace or a derivative coupled with deep learning couldn't be part of the curriculum. It seems that the abstract nature of maths is a stumbling block, where as the abstract nature of art isn't. Is this a difference between an open loop of learning and a feedback loop where the student sees results?
    • Jul 4 2013: Oliver, I agree. Math seems so abstract and boring. I mentioned below how much I have struggled with my daughter and her strong dislike of math. But then we went on the Khan Academy site to learn computer graphics and suddenly the whole concept of graphing clicked. It was wonderful.

      That video has changed the way I deal with my children and guiding them in their learning process. ( They attend a school, but now homework and summer work is approached completely differently. )
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    Jul 4 2013: Asking question is great way to open door of learning.
    One can practice questioning , but great questions comes out curiosity. Staying curious is the key than to be able to ask great questions ..........
  • Jul 4 2013: There is a book I read, which I'm a lot of you are familiar with, which is called the talent code. From my layman's perspective, this said we need passion and deep learning, so the ability to love the concept and not be afraid of going back over what we keep failing at is the key. There is a physiological effect of this called miolin, sorry, the spelling may be wrong, I'm blind so listened to it on audio book, but the effect is a sort of insulation which allows faster processing of our thoughts. There are some amazing ideas in this thread, how do we now get this into education... probably too late for a lot of us due to the decrease in brain plasticity, but surely there should be some more strategic way of developing this in our young.
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      Jul 4 2013: "There are 3 basic learning styles and teachers need to be aware of a students learning style and may have to adapt the lesson so it fits more learning styles or some students will struggle. Once a student understand their learning style they can find ways to learn any subject that might interest them."

      That is exactly what I said.
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    Jul 3 2013: It starts with the person's own interest.
    • Jul 3 2013: I am interested in Math, but I dont know how to learn it
      when I see all that formulas it scares me to hell, I close the book.

      Interesting point, just wonder how can it work.
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        Jul 3 2013: If you tell me what you want to learn about math and where you would say you are in your understanding, I can probably give you some ideas on where to start, both review materials and new.
        • Jul 3 2013: Fritzie,

          Thanks for your offer...
          I am not a student any more.
          a few years ago, I gave up Computing Science (IT programming) for one reason... I couldn't understand math, (yet it was Statistic Mathematics and in Dutch language (which is not my mother tongue))

          nowadays, when I open any Negotiation Books which explains Mathematics in Negotiation, it drives me crazy...

          I am good at languages... give me a book, that it written in Chinese or Arabic, I will tell you what the book was about in six months or so. (I am not familiar with those languages).

          now ... I just want to know HOW much Interest has got to do here? what about the ability?
          I cant play any musical instrument, yet I love guitar, piano, violin...

          Is there something wrong with my interest of ability?
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        Jul 3 2013: I would respectfully suggest that those who work or do research in education know that interest is not enough. It is a very useful condition for learning, but some people can learn material well while having no interest in it and others struggle even though they are interested.
        • Jul 3 2013: that is what I was saying, Fritzie,

          Interest ONLY isnt enough.... ability play role too,

          and above all, Communications between teacher and student.
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        Jul 3 2013: Go to Kahn Academy, sign in & rock out. They have a math tutorial program that is really cool. Keeps me engaged for hours.
      • Jul 4 2013: The problem is that it scares you to hell. If you really want to do this, start with the most simple arithmetics, follow the process step by step, try and remember what it was (or do it for the first time), to understand first addition, subtraction, then how multiplication builds on addition, etc. Math builds on previous math.

        I was kinda gifted with math. Yet, I left math for such a long while that later I developed fear for equations, I would truly miss the whole point of some article because it had equations. That experience allowed me to understand that fear is a main factor why students fail at math. Anyway, I made a conscious decision to look patiently and carefully, and the old me started coming back. Now I have no fear. I discovered that part of the problem was that I lost the patience that I had when I was younger. Math formulas have to be looked at carefully to understand where each term comes from, etc. Rushing lead me to fear. Leaving the fear out of the equation and arming myself with patience paid off.

        Maybe this is a good point to make. If people want to learn to learn, work towards being patient and to look carefully. Aim at understanding even if that will take time training yourself to pay attention for long enough periods of time.

        Interest, patience and persistence.
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        Jul 6 2013: Are you interested in math or in something else for which you need math or someone convinced you that you need math?

        Why would you need math to learn how to negotiate?

        When a child learns to catch a ball, he knows nothing about mechanics, gravity, aerodynamics, or calculus. It seems to me, math is not necessary to understand rather complex physical and social processes. I'm sure, most poker champions have a very vague idea about probabilities, permutations, and such. It seems to me that understanding of a subject does not come from learning the underlying math. Perhaps, understanding of the underlying math comes from understanding the subject first.

        I believe, I read somewhere than Einstein struggled with math as a school boy. Here are a couple of his quotes:

        ""Do not worry too much about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater."

        "Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself any more."
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          Jul 6 2013: Good point if that were true Keynesian economics would work.
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    Jul 3 2013: Yes, it is possible. I believe the first step is to identify the students learning style of preference. There are a few models with their own questionnaires to figure this out. It would be beneficial for an individual to know if they prefer any of the following styles: activist, reflector, theorist, pragmatist, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, extrovert, introvert, sensor, intuitor, thinker, feeler, among many, yes many, others.
  • Jul 3 2013: its like having the question remember to remember , just as important as learning how to learn being both brain / memory related needs awareness and cognitive abilities as well as practices and techniques,. exercise and reading writing and other mental exercises would help keep an active brain in shape just the way we keep our bodies in shape.
    Stress is needed to activate the sensors in our brains to keep us in our toes and moving .

    that's my five cents .......
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    Jul 3 2013: Helping students learn how to learn is a big focus, I notice, in classrooms and educational institutions. It takes place over time, though. You cannot teach it in first grade and then expect kids to learn autonomously without guidance as well as they would learn with guidance.

    It is also true that we are built to learn, as are other animals. What we can learn/be coached to do is to learn more efficiently than we would otherwise and to learn, for example, how to evaluate the relative quality of pieces of information that do not lend themselves to immediate empirical test.
  • Jul 9 2013: I think it isn't needed in humans to learn to learn, for humans our innate adaptability allows us to make sense of all that is around us. we would use our senses to view the world then give it meaning. for instance if we see scribbles on paper and have no clue what it says we could give it meaning and use it to learn to communicate.
    I do agree however that there a need for autonomy in what learn and are taught. but as we are taught it is the ability to communicate together that allows us to learn and teach ourselves to learn more easily. with the idea of brain training or teaching people to learn we produce a cyclical problem were we stunt our innate abilities to teach our self what we do by instinct and evolution. by being free to learn without too much interference we can develop ourselves and others far better.
  • Jul 9 2013: learning seems to be considered a innate thing, yet it is clear that most of the people suffer from some sort of deficiency in this regard, I wonder if it has to do with pollution, or a infection...

    mnemonics, is a system to learn a ton of things right? I wonder as it is a system that is almost unknown world wide.

    currently I have seen how new cures for learning impairments are developed and how a ton of nations neglect the people in need of such procedures,

    I wonder why the international community hasn't put a stop to such neglect...
  • Jul 9 2013: My short response: yes. A good conversation. I believe that instead of teaching these tricks to learning outdated and irrelevant information in schools, we should be giving kids authentic experiences in order for them to have the chance to learn, apply and have success. That way, kids will within themselves know that they CAN learn what needs to be learned and will be able to reapply those successful strategies next time there is something they feel needs to be learned.
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    Jul 8 2013: Well, learning how to learn is not an easy way. Suppose, mankind has yet to know about supernova. There you find only two persons in the history working separately observing stars. Supernova was discovered by Evans with a 12 inch long telescope and with a simplest method, he found an addition in his counting which he declared a New Star. While Hubble did research in Physics to construct a bigger telescope to find the same answer, yet that was not the sole purpose of that telescope. Both learned that stars are emerging from nowhere, Evans method was simple and conclusive, Hubble s research is expansive and leading one. You may always find a new way to learn how to learn, The logic of learning is evolutionary and will always find a better way to learn. I feel, Nature always tells the truth, however we may confuse with illusions. Today, we recognize that we revolve around sun but we see otherwise everyday, every season, We also aware moon spins around us and we see the same. Human mind could not solve this puzzle for ages yet remained proud of its knowledge and learning skills. As of today, the most difficult study may be understanding of universe from theory of relativity and big bang frame drag, complex quantum and particle physics, mathematical non linear motions and countless other subjects. These readings are difficult to comprehend all alone because it may take all of your age to understand only the basic knowledge of angular momentum if you are low IQ. Yet, only one genius of mankind may solve some problems as Einstein did when he was serving as examiner. He published his papers when he was just a bureaucrat who learned how to learn physics alone. But once he found a class room and lab, he solved almost every big problem. Today, We can learn the way he learned to learn, but we should not think like him. Because he submitted to unimaginable bend and today we need to think beyond his submission to mystery. Learning, how to learn is a life long process for us.
  • Jul 8 2013: To be meta-cognitive is to think about thinking. When you understand how YOU learn best and apply that to what you are learning you have learned how to learn. When you are confident in you abilities because you know how you learn best you will be a confident and curious learner who can set personal learning goals and gain autonomy. I am very proud of the Calgary Board of Education and the school I teach at right now because this has been our specific focus and it has made a difference in the lives of our students. Self-reflection and goal setting are paramount .
  • Jul 8 2013: My dear Juliette, credo che una buona idea possa essere condivisa ed apprezzata anche se detta 2500 anni fa o da uno che vive a 6000 Km di distanza. Thank you
  • Jul 7 2013: Wayne, thank you. That is a very interesting perspective that I had not considered.
  • Jul 6 2013: very interesting. Learn to lean to lean to learn
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    Jul 6 2013: On the matter of learning, I am not a PHD or even that verse. I have a question I would like to get some feedback on. I love golf. I have been playing for many years. The mechanics of the address and swinging the club to do what I want it to do still escapes me. Sometimes it is perfect. At other times, it is like I never saw a pitching wedge. I know in my mind every aspect and the logic behind hitting the ball. Making it happen 75% of the time is the problem. Is this a matter of concentration or learning?
    • Jul 6 2013: Dear Ed,
      I am not playing golf, but I know that learning the Alexander-Technique can help in improving the way you use your self, while playing golf - making your playing more reliable. It is all about un-learning habitual tensions than learning something new. There are articles on the internet about the Alexander-Technique and golf, enjoy reading. Maybe this is a starting point for you. Best wishes, Pia
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        Jul 6 2013: You may have something there. Maybe it IS more about unlearning than learning. Or just as important. Anyway, it would explain why kids pick new things up so much faster. They don't have anything to unlearn. What a blessing. Thank you
  • Jul 6 2013: “Is it possible to learn how to learn, and if so, how?”

    Your question reflects a serious lack of understanding and an absence of information.

    As a place to start, your question can usefully be restated in the following way:

    “Is it possible to learn how to learn, how to learn, how to learn?”

    This inquiry requires four “learns” before the person asking the question is ready to explore and experience the required comprehension. Like everything else in life this topic needs to be approached, ‘First things first, one thing at a time’. A fact that is very much like ‘patience’, the state of mind can only be taught by means of life’s impacts, brainwashing and conditioned reflexes won’t work.

    As I will explain below, in my experience I do not believe anyone can understand the answer to your the question without prior corresponding experiences that give life to the words and concepts. When experience is already in place, in some circumstances, verbally describing the experience can be useful.

    There is no doubt other interesting comments can be made here, however without feedback, to add anything more serves no purpose.

    So …

    A central point to the whole question of education and learning is described, in terms of the constructs for understanding. Recent developments in the cognitive sciences suggest that no one can put anything into their mind when the underpinnings for comprehension are not present in mind.
  • Jul 6 2013: I do not think it matters that they recognize it back when it is occurring but they will later in life. The discussions at the dinner table when I was growing which covered a gamut of topics taught me so much about thinking, discussion, debate, understanding. I did not really understand what I had learnt until so many years later.
  • Jul 6 2013: Hell I don't know.
    But one thing I have always done that has helped me is when I learn something, anything at all,
    I try to engage others in talking about it.
    Just explaining it shows me how well I know it and telling them or explaining it to them teaches me about it. In other words, it improves my learning about it and my learning in general.
    It's part of that saying, "in teaching you are taught."
    I think it is of importance to understand or know how you individually learn. It may not be like anyone else or there may be some wrinkles in your process that aren't in other people's learning process.
    Being open-minded is also excellent for learning.
    • Jul 8 2013: Most insightful reply.

      Another failsafe method, stop talking!
  • Jul 6 2013: You need a basic 'theory of truth' before you can really 'learn how to learn' but someone who has it figured out is the guy who wrote C++ primer plus, his 'basic pedogogy' (how to teach someone) is written inside the primer. It is a great beginning on how to 'learn how to learn' by Stephen Prata.

    Stephen Prata could probably teach you how to learn ANY subject if he lived long enough to write primers for everything. You should by the book and read through his sections on learning.

    Here's the link:

    Here's a quote from a review "This is the overall best C++ book for both beginner and intermediate programmers. As a self-learning student struggling to fully understand C++, i have gone through most, if not all, of the popular C++ books. My quest for the ultimate introductory and user-friendly C++ self-learning guide finally ended when i bought this one after reading several online recommendations from experienced teachers and successful C++ students."


    "The author of C++ Primer Plus introduces the basic topics, without assuming prior knowledge and this approach definitely helps you to build a solid background."
  • Jul 6 2013: Operant conditioning, also called instrumental learning.
  • Jul 5 2013: Once you start memorizing stuffs from books and some tips that others willy-nilly gave you,
    Strangely, you find yourself learning from what you've done so far,

    There's no particular way to learn how to learn.
    That's why we're individuals, not the same.

    There may be some tricks as to memorizing or solving specific problems, one can find the 'right' way to learn from what he’s been doing unless he disregards his own thoughts.
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    Jul 5 2013: Want to teach people how to learn then teach them how to watch and listen.
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    Jul 4 2013: This is a very interesting question. Having worked in schools and with young people, I have a knee-jerk response but I think I should think about it more before I say anything to be conclusive....
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    Jul 4 2013: Are you aware about Sugata Mitra's 'Hole-in-the-wall' project? His argument of non-instructive and participatory learning is compelling.
    The Educational system that we see now is the mutant of a colonial instruction based system aimed at production. This, IMO, is not naturally connected to learning which in its true essence is a participatory, trail and error, experiential process. In its most basic form this participation can be with your own body (learning swimming and by-cycling) where you have no algorithm available (it's not practically possible to write down a 'how-to' when there are hundreds of muscles and their split second co-ordination are involved). In the other end of the spectrum this can be participation with the members of your society (learning how to invest in a stock market).
    So it appears to me that the learning that matters is how to learn. Great teachers help to explain that to you.
  • Jul 4 2013: This is fascinating. There are so many trains of thought on this. I think that the actually process of gaining knowledge ( learning ) is deeply personal and we "trip" on them many times by accident. I believe that one needs to build habits and then tweak them. I also think that children need to see some applicability to knowledge. For example, my tween daughter hates math. But she loves anything artistic. I went on Khan Academy and we learned that to do graphic arts one needs to understand graphing, coordinates and the points of origin. Suddenly, it all clicked for her and she can "draw" things with that knowledge.

    The following talk by Sugata Mitra is absolutely fascinating.
  • Jul 4 2013: Creating a curriculum is tough business, even for those who are experts at something. Now, it isn't impossible for someone with no experience in something to learn a subject with no guidance from a teacher. However, the major disadvantage of self teaching is usually the amount of time investment needed to learn a subject. The results obviously depend greatly on the subject and the ability of the student. Not to mention access to certain resources such as literature, media, etc.
  • Jul 4 2013: I asked that question of several people that question - how did you learn to learn and when? The when became the interesting point. By the way, these individuals were all individuals with phd's.

    one stated they learnt in grad school and the others said undergrad or at home. Almost none indicated they learned how to learn in k-12., I find that to be a shame. The key is the questioning of authority and questioning the facts and questioning yourself.

    All said that the arguments and debates were the basis of the process of learning to learn.
    • Jul 4 2013: I am not sure that my children understand that they are learning how to learn in their elementary school. But I think that they are. They are also learning critical thinking. It is difficult to look back as an adult and recognize that you recognized it back then.
      • Jul 6 2013: I do not think it matters that they recognize it back when it is occurring but they will later in life. The discussions at the dinner table when I was growing which covered a gamut of topics taught me so much about thinking, discussion, debate, understanding. I did not really understand what I had learnt until so many years later.
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    Jul 3 2013: It is more a matter of which program works best for you

    1 Some learn by reading

    2 Some learn by observing

    3 Some only learn by peeing on the electric fence
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    Jul 3 2013: The human brain is pre-wired in the LEARN mode. It is arrogant to think we hold the key to another person's ability to acquire knowledge. Sure, there are helpful memorization techniques and proven effective teaching tools, but they assist in learning itself which is not the same as HOW we learn. We breath, we struggle to stay alive, we acquire knowledge, all without being taught. You are born knowing how to learn. From there on your environment can exercise and strengthen the ability every day of your life, or it can paralyze the ability and you will drift helplessly toward death.
    • Jul 3 2013: I don't think the question was geared toward the inherent ability to learn that people have when they are born, but rather the skills that can take that ability and allow a student to use it more effectively and efficiently. Things such as study habits, organizing information, understanding how to ask questions, and so forth. There's more to learning than just memory and intelligence.
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        Jul 4 2013: You disagree that humans are born able to learn? Why then would it be needful for them to learn how to learn? As I said, and you confirmed by examples, there are tricks and tools which can increase learning efficiency. I take no issue with that, but it remains true that we are born knowing how to learn. How we learn is for Neuroscience to explore, while the optimization of teaching methods is for Educators to explore. Those are two very different disciplines. I agree fully that there is more to learning than memory and intelligence and I don't think I have said anything to the contrary. I think the question may be strictly about TEACHING METHODS but is worded as if the subject is the God-given ability and capacity to process information, to learn. Thank you Michael!
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    Jul 3 2013: I am still learning. I just read LOTS of books by myself. I never like the whole idea of needing an external incentive, and a time limit, to learn something which interests me. It makes it harder to enjoy it (or in other words it makes it harder to get into a state of "Flow", where I can enjoy the challenge).
    I mean you need to give students purpose if you want them to try and master whatever they are trying to learn (as well as autonomy).
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    Jul 3 2013: How to learn?

    First step ..To know why we learn

    Why comes first than how..

    Every student should know why they are learning this subject.
    Why one should no history? Why maths? Why anatomy? and so on.
    It creates interest in the subject and learing becomes fun and easier.
    • Jul 3 2013: Hey Adesh

      that is the purpose and not the process.

      Funny enough all native speakers think they are the perfect teachers for foreigners.
      but when you ask a native speaker: "How do you know your own language?" most of them have no idea.
      the common response is: "It is natural"

      a few years ago, a friend asked me to phone to one of these TEFL (Teach English as Foreign Language)
      course. I did.. we got into conversation with one of the guys in the administration of the course.
      The guy thought it was for me, and was telling that my English was perfect enough to teach English (while I actually teach How to use English language techniques in Persuasion Science for Sales and Negotiation)
      The guy was English, obviously... when I ask him: "Do you teach how to teach how to learn English?"
      his answer was close not NO... defending himself by his world wide recognizable certificate and high depend for English teachers, etc.

      so it is not a news that no native speaker knows how they learn their own language, this means they will have difficulties to know HOW to teach, (yet not to mention HOW to learn)

      I learn English as a second language, I used many different approaches in my learning process.. then I learned Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, etc... result? I become an expert in learning languages.
      am I allowed to teach any of them? Officially no, I am not a certified... can I teach? well, my students score higher than the high scored students in the classroom.

      an Italian taught me Dutch
      a Belgian taught me Italian

      I understood that foreigners are the best teacher for foreign language.

      I agree it is good to introduce the purpose WHY to study, make it interesting and easy to learn.
      but more important is knowing HOW the student uses their representative system, how they actually code and decode the information. this is GOING into their mind and make it work for their benefit.
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        Jul 3 2013: I understood that foreigners are the best teacher for foreign language.

        because they are the ones who understands the best, the problem faced by a beginner .
        They also know how to over come these problems in a most efficient way.

        The more foreign language you learn ,the better you become as a teacher of foreign language.

        Edwin you have great experience and you are an excellent teacher with or without a certificate.