When you study for a test or you’re trying to learn a new skill, what’s your typical approach? If you’re like most people, you might repeat facts over and over again or do the same task over and over again until you can do it in your sleep.While these brute force tactics might make you feel like you’re encoding new information into your brain, my guest today argues that you’re just fooling yourself. His name is Peter Brown, and he’s the co-author of the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Today on the show Peter and I discuss why typical approaches to studying might make it feel like you’re learning, but don’t actually work. We then delve into research-backed advice on how to really learn something and really retain it. Some of these insights are going to seem pretty counterintuitive. If you’re a student, someone who’s looking to become proficient in a new skill, or just dedicated to the idea of lifelong learning, this episode is packed with actionable advice.
- What most people get wrong about learning
- Why re-reading things over and over again makes you feel like you’re learning, but isn’t actually effective
- Why we’re wired to forget things
- Why when things feel easy, you’re not actually learning
- Why some people think they’re smarter than they really are and why that prevents them from learning
- What role IQ plays in your ability to learn
- The role of mental models in learning
- Are “learning styles” a real thing?
- Why you should focus on getting stuff out of the brain and not into the brain if you really want to learn
- How to mix things up so you learn better
- How to know if you’re actually learning
- What you should do after a class or reading something to help make it stick
- How to incorporate mixed practice into your learning strategy
- The power of low stakes quizzes
- Why quizzing yourself before you learn something can help you learn better
- Why you should prepare like a football team
- The mindset you should have to learn
- And much more!
If you’re a student, or just want to better retain the things you watch, listen to, and read, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Make it Stick.
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in the Podcast
- Make It Stick Website
- The Meno
- The Socratic Method
- The Dunning-Kruger Effect
- Podcast about IQ with Scott Barry Kaufman
- Podcast with Cal Newport on Deep Work
- Ace Your Exams: Study Tactics of the Successful Gentleman Scholar
- Note-Taking Strategies for Academic Success
- OODA Loop
- Meta study on learning styles
- Flash card apps to help you learn
- Should I Go to Law School?
- Podcast with Carol Dweck about developing a growth mindset
Connect With Peter
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Read the Transcript
(via The Art of Manliness)