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Shower Thoughts, The Speed of Learning With Various Media

This post was first sent to my newsletter on November 23rd, 2020.
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A quickie for all you fellow epistemophiliacs.
I may have written something about this somewhere, but this still rankles my brain enough, that I want to put it down in a note.

Learning across various subjects, as I have been for the past two years (12th, college, programming, and the rest), for a short while, I was obsessed about the best way, the fastest way, the most efficient way to learn something.

And as usual, I have realised, a little too late in the process that there is no such thing.
One learns at the speed one learns.

That is not to say however, that all forms of instructional material are created the same.
The media you engage with, has to be intentionally chosen, based on what you want to learn, get out of something that you are consuming.

Here’s how I see it.

  • Reading Mathematics is the most efficient at expressing huge amounts of knowledge, efficiently and concisely. (which is why it is a budding hobby of mine. so that I can read more, lots more, before I die 😃)
  • Reading Books (both fiction and nonfiction) come next. I can skim, absorb, skip sections, delve deeply, reread, meditate over, quite rapidly.
  • Audio, Video and Interactive Multimedia are the next steps in growing levels of commitment of effort, time and space. You learn better, but spend more time doing it.
  • Doing it is the final step. The most involved, takes the most effort and the most time.

This is not a good, better, best list. This is a how much time and attention, do I want to devote to learning this-thing-i-am-learning list.

This is more like: this is how I go about learning list.
If I want to quickly read large quantities of knowledge, I start at the top, and the more I want to dive deeper / learn more intently / understand better because I don’t get it; the further down the rabbit hole list, I go.

For hard, vast, yet distillable topics, Maths is the best way to go.

It isn’t available for the rest of squishy unpredictable life, so books are the next best option. As I realise I want to learn more or as I realise, the books are not cutting it, I don’t understand this, that’s when I go down a level (only if I think, this is worth learning).

A/V and multimedia are the next stop. For e.g. I did not understand Python Comprehensions by reading, so I took a video course to understand them better.

Doing is of course the big daddy of them all. I want to change careers to programming, which is why I now devote hours a day, to … you know … actually programming. While Josh Kaufman’s maxim certainly applies, it is still a significant investment you make. So do this intentionally.

That’s all for this week
If you like this one, I might pen more shower thoughts 😂
Or they can just go down the drain 😛
Let me know what you think.


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