Learning Techniques - Part #1
You And Your Brain!
The great thing about learning is that like anything, it becomes easier
with practice. The more you use your brain, the more receptive and
willing it becomes. The brain, although an organ, reacts just like any muscle
in the body; exercise it and it will grow stronger. Pump iron and your body
grows, pump knowledge and your mind grows.
The one main difference between the brain and muscles is that brain
matter does not deteriorate with age.
Keep it stimulated and you will be rewarded with higher intelligence right
into old age. If you don’t end up with one of the diseases associated
with ageing then it is quite possible to keep learning and retaining information
indefinitely. The brain positively thrives on stimulation.
We are now entering a wonderful new time, we have stepped out of the industrial
era and are moving into the information age. These days it not 'who you know'
but 'what you know' - knowledge is king!
The greatest problem we face in this new and exciting epoch is that you need
to digest and retain such masses of information, it seems overwhelming. The
other problem is that modern man/woman doesn’t know how to learn
average, it is said that we only use around 2% - 10%
of our full brain capacity in everyday life
It seems incredible that there are vast
areas up there that are not even used. Imagine what it
would be like if only we could harness just a fraction
more of what we are capable of. Scientists are only
now scratching the surface, the brain
is like a super computer without a manual.
We are gifted with this amazing organ and we haven’t a clue how it really
I recently saw a programme grossly called
'World of Pain'. In it was featured the story of a young
accidental gunshot victim. The poor lad literally lost
half his head along with the brain it protected - the footage
of him just didn't look real, I was convinced that the
injury he seemed oblivious to, was computer generated.
It featured him a few months after the
accident so much of the healing had taken place but the
whole side of his head was missing! His brother would find
great amusement in throwing socks into the crater!
Anyway, the point is that the surviving
brain took over, it compensated for the massive trauma
in other ways and the lad was able to lead a relatively
normal life - and plastic surgery which filled the hole
with silicon and covered it with the remaining scalp, helped
alleviate the unwanted stares.
It's like someone who loses their sight.
The brain will compensate by intensifying the hearing and
spatial awareness ... wonderful and totally fascinating!
Yes, the brian is an awesome organ
I lived in Greece for many years and had a Swedish friend with a Greek husband.
They had a daughter. Now, the Swedish girl spoke Greek, and the Greek husband
spoke Swedish, and they both spoke English.
Infuriatingly, they would slip from one language to the next and the funny
thing was that the daughter would pick it up. At one stage in her development
the little girl had a mixed up language all of her own which not even the parents
understood! Eventually it sorted itself out and the girl is now fluent in several
The point is, that because in the early
stages learning is fun and interactive, children don’t
make a conscious effort to retain information. The brain
is happily and effortlessly working away behind the scenes
building a library of epic proportion.
My young son is into his dinosaurs at the moment. He’s only three and
comes out with the most incredible words and names; species even I find hard
to pronounce. He learns this stuff because he loves dinosaurs and beasts. The
recall of the difficult names are a bi-product of the playing experience,
they are registered effortlessly because of the total learning adventure.
I also have a young daughter developing
into speaking age. Although she isn’t old enough
to have discovered a passion yet (except for her mom and
dad!!!) I’ll be surprised if she latches onto dinosaurs
as has her brother.
It will be an awful lot harder for her
to learn creatures such as Tyrannosaurus, Gastornis and
Lepticidium because they're not what she's into. The learning
experience won’t be totally engrossing, she’ll
have to force herself to remember daft old reptiles that
she has no interest in. She’ll struggle in the dangerous
world of the Spinosaurous.
And if I was to try to teach her using conventional methods, blackboard, pointer
and repetition I’m sure she’ll just end up hating the bloody creatures!!!
You are already a great learner,
just look at what you’ve achieved in your life.
Learning can still be fun!
Look at what a laugh it is when learning to drive a car (if you ever have!!!).
A totally alien concept for the body, but because the results at the end are
so exhilarating, and the learning process is such a scream, you don’t
notice the information and muscle memory being assimilated, logged and stored.
The problem for you right now is that many of your past experiences with learning
have taught you that trolling through information and trying to retain it is
damn hard work, dull, and only to be attempted a last resort.
Who on earth taught you that learning
Your school teachers, that’s who!!!
You were doing great until you started attending those boring lectures and
were forced to sit still for hours while Mr Monotone droned on about algebra
and left handed, unilateral, tri-squares.
You were then sent home with piles of homework and you weren’t allowed
to do the fun things until you’d finished. In the vast majority of cases
your main learning experiences, and methods for retaining information are from
school teachers who, as I know now, didn’t have a clue!
They tried to teach you the way they thought you
wanted to learn. The thing is they forgot to ask you!!! You would have had
favorite teachers and others you hated. I’ll put a pound to a pinch of
salt, that you did not do well at the subjects which were taught by Mr Twat!!!
Only now are those in charge of our children's education understanding that
we all learn in different ways.
But there is something
you probably weren't aware of as Mr Twat driveled on boring
the pants off you ... believe it or not, Mr Twat would
have had a reasonable record of success. Some students,
around 30%, would have actually enjoyed his style of delivery!
This is because his 'teaching style' actually suited the 'learning style' of
those students ... it's the reaming 70% that we're the ones he couldn't communicate
If you are one of the rare exceptions
to the rule and attended a cutting edge, forward thinking
school where the learning experience was enjoyable - do
you understand why it was so?
Although things are changing and accelerated learning techniques are not new,
the sad fact is that most schools are slow to change. Most are still banging
away with methods that should have gone out with the Victorians. (If you don’t
know who the victorians were I suggest that once you’ve got to grips
with fun learning you go and read up on your history!!!)
But even if schools do introduce these radical teaching techniques it’s
no use to you is it?
When I first wrote this section about
6 years ago
it was unheard of for schools to subscribe to the
notion that we are all different. I have noticed
recently that suddenly schools are using many of
the learning techniques I outline. Shame they
weren't in use when we were kids eh! learning
would have been so much more enriching.
Everyone is different, and we all have our own unique
way of learning.
Discover how your mind likes to receive its
information, then supply it in that format, and you’re
on your way.
The good news is that accelerated learning does not require you to change in
any way. All you need to do is what you are doing now, but better and more
often. You need to expand your current capabilities.
On average we remember:
- 20% of what we read
- 30% of what we hear
- 40% of what we see
- 50% of what we say
- 60% of what we do
- and 90% of what we see,
hear, say and do.
Therefore the secret of successful
retention is to combine seeing, hearing, saying
and doing - and make it fun.
In order to show you what I mean, I would
like you to take a little test. We are going to learn to
count to ten in Japanese!!!
If I was to leave you with that list and
ask you to learn it, how would you go about it?
Each individual would have their own method and I’ll bet most are dull
and boring. When learning becomes dull retention becomes much harder, even
if you would consciously like to remember what’s being read.
We are aiming to stimulate as many senses as possible through an enhanced learning
EXPERIENCE. The bigger the event, the better chance you have of recall.
Now try learning Japanese my way:
||Action to take
||squint your eyes
||as you imagine a sexy woman
||leave the room
||duck as the jealous ‘spouse’ throws
stone over your head
||scratch your knee again, ‘It’s
still itchy!!!’ - sitchy
||pick up a hatchet to break down the
||ask your jealous partner "could
you forgive me?"
||the last question is broken down
as coo - jew
"What on earth are you going
on about?" You ask.
Simple! We have just built a very clear, vivid picture which
you will find extremely difficult to forget. I guarantee that in several days
from now you will be able to recall that picture with absolute clarity and,
in doing so you will automatically recall how to count to ten in Japanese.
Read this out loud and visualize
It’s a scorching summer's day. The
sun is is blazing through your window. If you're not of
the male sex then you are for this experiment - an odd
You get an itchy (1.) knee (2.) and bend
over to scratch it. As you stand up you look out of the window, you have to
squint because the sun (3.) is so bright. A sexy woman 'she' (4.)
You are spotted by your wife eying up the girl and you can see that she is
very angry. You leave the room - go (5.). You have to duck
because in her rage your wife has hurled a rock over (6.)
your head. You get outside and the door is slammed behind you. The itch returns,
your knee it’s-itchy (7.) again so you bend over to
As you do you spot a hatchet (8.)
You pick it up and break down the door. As it gives way
you are confronted by your tearful spouse at which point
you ask "coo jew (9.10.) forgive
I don’t mean to sound sexist but
this graphically illustrates that by combining all the
senses, learning becomes easier and more fun. To the females
among you either put yourself in the position of the man
(God forbid!!) or build a new picture.
You will be building pictures as a matter
of course anyway. It is much easier to recall your own
pictures because of the extra effort required to build
them in the first place. Research has also shown that the
more contrived and bizarre (in a humorous way) the story,
the better it seems to stick.
In this example we can feel the heat of the sun, the anger of
the wife, desire (the woman!!!) and the joy of
being forgiven. If we wanted to make this little scene even more unforgettable
we would act it out. Bend over to relieve the scratch, squint your eyes etc.
This play acting is reserved for the most important things, you don’t
want to be going through a mini play every time you want to remember something!!!
We have just established that the dull, boring task of learning Japanese can
be made fun and enjoyable, and in doing so the main points are easily passed
on to our long term memory.
Over the next few weeks you need to practice this visualization and picture
building. Get into the habit of creating pictures for tasks you wish to remember.
Ironically, the more bizarre these thoughts the deeper they will become
inscribed and more easily recalled.
This is why in the example I have given the females have an even weird picture
as they've had to become a man!
Here’s another example:
How many stomachs does a cow have?
The answer, if you didn’t know already is four.
Not a particularly relevant fact to remember for any length of time is it?
Now picture that black spotted, cow stumbling around its field, tripping over
its own feet because a stomach is tied to each one!!!
You won’t forget that in a hurry will you?
You’ve had a lot to digest here for one sitting so I'll break Accelerated
Learning Techniques into two parts and we'll finish it off in the next chapter...