Whenever I meet somebody studying an obscure academic niche, I ask so many questions that it usually takes the poor researcher a while to realise I’m not being sarcastic and I genuinely want to know about (for example) 18th century plumbing in the Netherlands.
I’m prepared to admit that I might be weird, but I don’t think I’m alone in this: multipotentialites are often obsessed with learning.
Recently in the Puttytribe – our online community for multipotentialites – some multipods have been discussing their favourite learning methods.
The scientific evidence about people having different learning styles is heavily disputed (as a warning, I got too interested in learning about the debate about learning, so follow that link at your peril!)… but regardless of the science on the effectiveness of different learning styles, it seems that many people can express a style we prefer.
Personally, I’m more theoretical than practical. I’d happily absorb articles, lectures, and books without ever actually doing the thing I’m learning about.
Today, I thought the wider multipotentialite community might benefit from the discussion we’re having in the Puttytribe, so I’ve pulled out some highlights and lessons from the thread. Let’s see what our brilliant community has to say…
1. Learn By doing
The debate about theory versus practice kept coming up in the discussion. I suspect the best approach is finding the mix which works for you, and noticing when you’re doing too much theory and not enough practice (or vice versa).
I don’t do well with JUST reading books, but if I can just start doing, then use a book as reference when I run into troubles I usually understand better. I’m very much a ‘learn to do by doing’ person. I’ll tend to do a little research on the internet, youtube vids, blogs, etc.- but I find I retain more by just getting in there and making mistakes.
2. Embrace your mistakes
And on that note, Maria says:
I like learning by doing and to learn from my mistakes, That is also kind of what being a multipod is to me: to dive in head first for the love of learning and just get to do a lot of fun stuff.
3. Use all of your multipotentiality to learn
If you can bring in multiple skills and interests, then whatever we learn is more likely to stick. Meg and Cornelia say:
Anything goes: Reading, writing, listening, repeating, watching and practicing. Possibly in a complete smooshing approach.
Usually, I start out by researching (mostly online or through ebooks at the moment), then podcasts, YouTube or, if possible, online classes (Coursera, for example). I like to try stuff out and/or talk about it with others when I understand the basics. The next step would be wild experimentation and trying to connect that new thing with all that I have learned before °cue mad scientist laughter°
4. Get immersed
Many people looked for ways to bring the learning into other parts of their lives. For example, Joan and Alicia shared these ideas:
When learning a language, I like to listen to songs [in the language], or watch music videos, or get an audio book.
I take my ebook to the gym and read it while on the bike or the crosstrainer.
I listen to TED talks while cleaning.
5. Try the FOR method
Richard offered his own method, complete with an acronym (which always helps!):
I also learn by what I call the FOR method. (F)ocus, (O)bservation, (R)eflect. Focus on a subject, and then, Observe it in action (reading on websites, watch videos, or try it yourself). Then, Reflect on the experience, ask questions.
6. Keep it fun!
And many people mentioned the importance of keeping motivation high. Alicia expressed this very succinctly:
The only downside to this approach is that it’s a bit “all work and no play”. Instead, I turn “relaxation” into another objective, so, for example, if I am reading a novel it counts as part of my relaxation.
As well as ensuring relaxation is part of our goals, everyone agreed on the importance of remembering our initial motivation – whether that’s love of learning, completing a specific project, or reaching a certain level of mastery.
How do you learn?
As ever, the biggest hurdle with learning is often about recognizing our own blind spots. Perhaps we’ve been neglecting learning, or focusing too hard on it. Perhaps we’ve forgotten the fun, or our initial motivation, or we’ve forgotten to mix in our other interests. You know yourself best, and hopefully these snippets will remind you of something you can do to learn more effectively.
What’s your favourite way to learn? Do you have any tips or stories you could share with the community? Let us know in the comments!