Learning for smart people (only)

by David · 13 comments

Brain

 

I guess you believe you’re smart? I trust your judgement, but we’ll see…

It has come to my attention that many people believe the classroom is a magical room, which supposedly injects knowledge into one through a teacher syringe. What a delusion. Here I hope to dispel this fantasy.

A few questions to think about before we get started. What comes to mind when you hear the word classroom? What images? What emotions?  Are they positive? Negative? Here’s what my mind conjures:

  • Boring
  • Homework
  • Textbooks
  • Structure
  • Compulsory
  • Teacher
  • Exams

Do my thoughts look anything like yours? Did you notice I didn’t include the word Learn? That’s because I’ve not been enchanted to believe we learn by attending a classroom. Learning is simple.

How Do We Learn?

We learn by making connections, building on top of what we already know. Here’s something to think about; we can’t learn to speak until we’ve learnt to listen. Why? Simple. All meaningful audible sounds coming out of our mouths were once heard by our ears. Simple progression.That’s my first point, we can only build on top of what we already know. Remember, we can’t learn to speak until we’ve learnt to listen.

Magical Teachers

So, what are magical teachers for? Simple. A teachers job is to present new information. He/she does their best to help students connect old information with new information (which is how we learn). Therefore, in a magical classroom, whether you learn or not rests with the teachers ability to help you make connections. Not so magical huh? If the teacher is unable to help you connect new information in a way which makes sense to your mind, guess what? You won’t learn.

This is where being smart becomes important.

The Real Magic

Why not step into the drivers seat, shift yourself into sixth gear and barge your way into the fast lane by becoming a self sufficient learner. It only makes sense because, no one knows what you know, or what connections make sense in your mind better than you. Creating your own connections will allow for your knowledge to grow like a rolling snowball as you climb the ladder of time. The more you learn the easier it becomes, simply because you have a larger archive of knowledge waiting to jump out and connect with the unknown.

Believe it or not the first step to becoming a self sufficient learner is becoming a mad scientist, so mad you’re willing to lay your brain on the table for tests and analysis. What you’ll want to figure out is how your brain works. You need to prod your brain for answers, under what conditions does it learn best? What parts of your body does your brain respond to? These are the answers you’re going need to get started.

You don’t need a classroom, because they’re far from magical. What you need is a laboratory in your bedroom and if you’re really cool, in your basement.

I’ll give you some time to think about that whilst I write some  more on this topic.

Let me know what you think so far.

  • Really helpful… you know that I’m a self sufficient learner so I’ll think about that 😉

  • Hey, Roman!

    You’ve made some great points, some of which I intend to address in up and coming posts 😉

    However, I think you may have missed the point. I’m going to pick some of your points and expand on them.

    “They can be boring and hopeless, or they can be inspiring and motivational”

    Yes you’re are correct in saying this, I addressed this in the post where I said:

    “whether you learn or not rests with the teachers ability to help you make connections.”

    you also said:

    “But if you study medicine, for example, I doubt that dissecting the corpses in your own basement would look appropriately the resume :)”

    You’re correct, there are certain practices that one needs to go through a classroom for credibility. However, I didn’t intend to write about credibility. (I intend to write about this in another post)
    I’m talking about learning. We as humans have knowledge of the human body because of years of tests, analyses and experimentation.

    I said:

    “we can’t learn to speak until we’ve learnt to listen”

    you also said

    “I’ve been ignorant in my disliking of classrooms for some time, but then I realized that the best teacher is the one who inspires a student to become a smart learner.”

    Yes, you’re right this is the ‘best’ teacher, but like you said, they inspire students to become a smarter learners, in my experience there aren’t many teachers that are able to do this, moreover, rarely do we have the ability to choose our teachers in the classroom. You get what you get, and you deal with it.

    “Classroom is boring? Make it fun”
    This is down to the teacher. The student has no power. Not everyone finds the same things as fun. There wil almost always be students in the class who like one way of doing things over another.

    “not all kinds of knowledge are easy to pursue on your own”
    Learning is easy. You just need to know how. Yes, there will be obstacles you need to overcome, but that’s all part of the learning process, learning becomes easier the more you learn, like I said:

    “The more you learn the easier it becomes, simply because you have a larger archive of knowledge waiting to jump out and connect with the unknown.”

    Thanks for your comment. Great to have different point of views 🙂

    • Hey again and sorry for the late reply. Just in time for your next post on the subject 🙂

      I guess, I ranted away a little bit on the subject of teachers.

      In my experience, 95% percent of classrooms were hopelessly boring by default, so I am with you on that. What I meant by having fun is that you as a learner should try to find a way to make the process of learning (of whatever it is that you are being taught in the classroom) exciting.

      I am speaking from experience on that. I have a great friend from my university years, and we are both into playing music, so we basically used music and performance as a way to go through tough studies. Even the most hopelessly boring subject becomes irresistible after you make a hilarious song about it 🙂

      It was quite awesome working on stuff and fun actually sitting in the classroom, because we had a completely different approach to comprehending the material. And a lot of it stuck in my mind afterwards. People used to think we are crazy for looking alive and interested during lectures, as opposed to sleeping, etc.

      Right, I’ll go and read your next post now 🙂

  • I think the best thing about (tertiary) classrooms is that they connect you in an ongoing fashion with a bunch of people who are also interested in the same subject.  For me, that helps to keep my interest up. 

    • That’s a good point! If are lucky to finds yourself in a classroom with enthusiastic individuals then that’s a great place to be, even if only for making connections. 

      My experience is different though, there are often few enthusiastic student. 

    • That’s a good point! If are lucky to finds yourself in a classroom with enthusiastic individuals then that’s a great place to be, even if only for making connections. 

      My experience is different though, there are often few enthusiastic student. 

    • That’s a good point! If are lucky to finds yourself in a classroom with enthusiastic individuals then that’s a great place to be, even if only for making connections. 

      My experience is different though, there are often few enthusiastic student. 

    • That’s a good point! If are lucky to finds yourself in a classroom with enthusiastic individuals then that’s a great place to be, even if only for making connections. 

      My experience is different though, there are often few enthusiastic student. 

  • Classrooms suck. I always learn languages on my own. It’s a lot more fun!

  • RoXana

    I definetely agree with that,
    I enrolled once in a german course , everybody there was so much better that me ,I so i was kinda psyched out. I didn’t liked the class ( cause they were just focusing on grammar , and how to pass Geothe exams ) , I started to study on my own ( there is a LOT of thing you can download from internet ) , after 2 month I went to that class again to see how other guys have progressed , surprisingly I found myself the best student there!!!!!! , everybody told me , Hey how could you learn this much fast ?!! were you maybe in germany ?
    But I’m not a language learner ( i just know Russian , eng , persian,german) . But i study natural sciences and Math alot , Learning on my own had made me a Genius (as other people are saying )
    But I felt sometimes disappointed on a peroblem , when i couldn’t solve it , I think leaning on your own is perfect , But it’s also good to have professor who you can ask your questions to.
    Thank you for mentioning this.

    • I agree with you. Teachers aren’t useless. But they are more useful when you take charge of your own learning.

  • Thoufeeq

    I feel its correct as I don’t find any opposing theory right now.

    Everybody is different, so are our brains and the way it works. Finding out under what condition it learns best is the best way to learn. Investing time and effort into the same will pay in the long run.

    For those who teach otherwise, I simply can’t agree.

    Thank you for this post. Looking forward for an expanded version of your findings 🙂

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