« Back
read.
5 Ways to Learn Better - Make It Stick (3/52)

5 Ways to Learn Better - Make It Stick (3/52).

I've recently decided to attempt the arduous task of reading a book a week and summarizing my thoughts on the book in question. This is my third out of 52.

I'm Roger, startup growth guy for Springboard, food lover, sometimes-blogger teaching code at code(love) whose unifying theme is the belief that learning will rule the 21st century. I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to best optimize learning not only for myself, but for everybody around me.

Here's my latest from Make it Stick, a book about how to learn effectively.


Start with the assumption that everything you have been taught about learning is wrong. You may have been conditioned from elementary school onwards to constantly read and reread material until you have memorized it. You may have even been rewarded with good grades for doing so.

If you've been doing that, you've been holding your learning back for your whole life.

Make It Stick is about questioning convention and really studying the outcomes that should define learning. By flipping intuition with fact, the book comes out with several counter-intuitive tips to help people learn better.

1) Practice makes perfect, but only if it's under the right circumstances and the right urgency. Simulating airplane flights only matters if you think your life is going to be at stake. Practice how you want to play and you'll improve accordingly.

2) Spend time elaborating on your learnings. Don't take in material passively: actively rearrange concepts in your head and tie them together with your own drive to organize information accordingly. The Latin names associated with plants don't make much sense unless you try to organize all plants categorically yourself. Spend the time to build on what you learn rather than be satisfied that you've absorbed everything.

3) Space out your learning. Cramming doesn't work because your brain naturally takes practice in different contexts to truly absorb a new skill. Don't try to learn everything at once--slowly structure your life so that you're exposed to what you want to learn on a steady basis.

4) The right amount of difficulty is good for learning. Too many people get frustrated and give up before they truly learn a skill because they start associating themselves with being a failure. In truth, learning is about failing at something until you get it right.

5) Learning is always possible. One of the biggest determinants of successful learning has to do with whether you believe intelligence is innate or if it is something that can be grown. If you believe the former, you may be ashamed to do anything uncomfortable where you could fail--and learn.

comments powered by Disqus