Learning how to learn

Recently, I've been struck by how little I know out of the ocean of human knowledge.  I can code.  But I have no clue how to design physical objects, what makes biology work, or how to write a sonnet (or for that matter, even what that is).  I only speak English fluently.  

I know I can't be an expert in everything.  But I want to be more of a renaissance person than I am.  Enter meta-learning.

I want to learn how to learn more effectively.  This is inspired by Mike Boyd (youtuber), and Tim Ferriss (serial entrepreneur and teacher).  

The best framework I've found so far is the DSSS method, from Ferriss.

Deconstruction.  This means breaking down skills into their constituent parts.  For a human language, this might be the vocabulary, the grammar, the culture, and the idioms.

Selection: Which parts do I want to learn?  Mike Boyd is very good about picking a hyper-specific goal.  For example, instead of saying he wants to learn how to throw a playing card, he might say he wants to throw a card, and have it stick in this apple.  Once you have this hyper-specific goal, one must decide exactly what aspects of the skill one will focus on.  (The 80-20 rule, or the Pareto principle, is key here).

Sequencing: This counterintuitive step is deciding what order things should be learned in.  Ferriss uses the example of chess.  If I were to try to teach chess, I would have started with a full board.  He cited a teacher who started with just two kings, and a pawn, allowing a student to immediately grasp a part of the game, learn some strategy, and get experience.  

Stakes: The final element is hijacking your brain's instinct for loss aversion.  One way to do this would be to commit to donate $100 dollars to a charity that goes against your beliefs if you fail in your goal.  An alternative may be to sign up for an event or trip that would be painful if you failed (i.e. signing up for a dance competition if you wish to learn how to dance).

I have yet to try out this framework personally, but I'm pumped!  I'll update on how it goes. :)

Subscribe to joshuaa.dev

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.