Learning and making mistakes

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How Brains Work

What's going on in a child's brain when you read them a story? explains a recently-published study that measures the brain during three different delivery methods of the same story: audio-only delivery (i.e. hearing the story) audio and pictures, and audio and animation. It found that the mix of audio and pictures (similar to a parent reading a physical book to a child) provided the best opportunity for children to build connections between what they were hearing, seeing, and understanding.

When children could see illustrations, language-network activity dropped a bit compared to the audio condition. Instead of only paying attention to the words, Hutton says, the children's understanding of the story was "scaffolded" by having the images as clues.

"Give them a picture and they have a cookie to work with," he explains. "With animation it's all dumped on them all at once and they don't have to do any of the work."

Most importantly, in the illustrated book condition, researchers saw increased connectivity between — and among — all the networks they were looking at: visual perception, imagery, default mode and language.

Learning from your mistakes

How to learn from your mistakes by Scott Berkun Learning from mistakes requires three things:

  1. Putting yourself in situations where you can make interesting mistakes
  2. Having the self-confidence to admit to them
  3. Being courageous about making changes

Errors vs Bugs and the End of Stupidity

You can't really describe the accuracy of a buggy program by the percent of questions it gets right; if you ask it to do something different, it could suddenly go from 99% right to 0% right.  You can only define its behavior by isolating what the bug does.

Your comfort zone is overrated by Faruk Ateş on The Pastry Box

In the past, a younger me no doubt would’ve reacted with angry defensiveness to some of these experiences. Nowadays, I am armed with the above two rules, so I let myself be uncomfortable about my mistake. I then asked for an alternative that wasn’t ableist. I accepted it and thanked my critic for keeping me sharp.

Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it

People wring their hands over how to make science relevant and accessible, but newspapers hand us one answer on a plate every week, with the barrage of claims on what’s good for you or bad for you: it’s evidence based medicine. If every school taught the basics – randomised trials, blinding, cohort studies, and why systematic reviews are better than cherrypicking your evidence – it would help everyone navigate the world, and learn some of the most important ideas in the whole of science.

Culture's impact on learning

The rest of the iceberg

I once attended a workshop where culture was defined as the “collective programming of the mind” that distinguishes one group of people from another.

This article also includes what the author calls the Cultural Iceberg - the tip of the iceberg being the outward trappings of our cultures, and everything below the water being the true bits of culture that occur.

Flow and deep work

The Importance Of Deep Work & The 30-Hour Method For Learning A New Skill

To create a state of flow, one must follow certain rules and embrace deliberate practice through a concept called deep work. In order to produce the absolute best results you’re capable of, you need to commit to deep work. The key to developing the ability for deep work is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition from a distracted state into a state of stable concentration. The rule of thumb is that it takes approximately 25 minutes of focus without distraction to reach a state of flow. If you’re checking your Twitter notifications every 20 minutes, which seems harmless, you prevent your brain from reaching that state and therefore prolong the time required to complete your task.

This article is, at its surface, an article to help people entering the Information Security field figure out what to learn next. Ultimately, though, it outlines a technique for exploring new topics and in-depth studying that can be applied to any field.

Additional Resources