The Essentials of Accelerated Learning
I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the area of how to accelerate learning so it may be a bit arrogant of me to title this post as if I know what the essentials of accelerated learning actually are. It fascinates me that a young person can be brilliant in almost every academic subject, but have a great deal of difficulty learning how to be socially competent.
- The first essential is knowing that learning in one type of area such as science can be very different than when you are learning how to play soccer or learning to positive relationships with others. If you do exactly what you do in science when you are in social situation, you may find that you are being overly critical and judgmental. It works in science because you have to make critical judgments all the time, but if you are critical and judgmental in a relationship, you just put off the other person. In human relations you have to suspend judgment. Consider the difference between reading a book and playing a soccer or hockey game. In reading one word follows another in an endless sequence that eventually gets to an end. In playing soccer a person has to pay attention to the other players while also attending to the ball. The learning can accelerate when you know how to learn in a specific area.
- The second essential is to be free of fear and other negative emotions when learning. This seems so obvious that it hardly bares saying, but when was the last time you had an instructor in anything who helped you let go of fear in the process of learning. Fear and other negative emotions have the effect of putting resistance in the way of learning. It isn’t that difficult to learn how to stand up in front of a group and deliver an interesting speech, but the fear of the reaction of the audience paralyzes lots of people from being able to deliver one well. If you can let go of the fears/emotions that cause the tension and resistance, then the learning is going to be hugely accelerated.
- The third essential is the ability to remember successful attempts and repeat them until they are consolidated. Because we all live in a technologically-based society that rewards science way over other types of learning, the tendency with everything in life is to be super critical. The culture is permeated with criticism. Because of this people tend to focus on everything that they are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right. When you learn anything new, the process is to remember what was successful, repeat it, and then add a new step in the same way. Mostly what you need is positive feedback about what you are doing right and then small corrections to get to the right movements or processes.
- The fourth essential is have unending curiosity about how to learn in an area. When you face internal resistance, the appropriate response is curiosity, not devastation. For instance, if you are learning how to ski, but you are terrified, you can get curious about the terror inside. If you let yourself have the terror, then eventually you will learn from it, and it will go away. Last week I returned to skiing after being some 20 years away from it because of living in tropical countries. I felt very fearful on the first run. I proceeded down the mountain very slowly. I realized that the fear and tension in my body had nothing to do with skiing, but what had happened to me in work-related experiences when I wanted to have a lot of joy. There was huge resistance inside. Gradually, my fear lessened. By the third run my memory of how to ski returned, the tension lessened and I had a great time. On the second day the fear had completely disappeared and the learning began to accelerate.
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