Its been some time since I've been in school.
And in those many years since, I've become comfortable with life and how I handle new life lessons. Most of the knowledge comes from experience, not from books. And as studies have shown, the older you get the less knowledge you're likely to soak up new information. No more fresh young impressionable minds. No more is my brain like a sponge for knowledge. More difficult is it for new ideas and logic to stick. Youth is wasted on the young I say.
So whats an older guy to do? Well, since I wanted to learn new things I had to re-learn how to learn in the first place. We're not talking 1st grade finger-painting & glue eating here. We're talking reading new information and understanding it, remembering it (my memory has gotten worse as I've aged). So for me I need to understand the concept and logic of the idea to make it easier for me to memorize things. How do I do that?
I love the internet. I searched "How do I learn how to learn?" and wouldn't you know it, google had an answer for me.
Learning how to learn, a course offered online at Coursera.org, created by US San Diego, and is taught by Dr. Barb Oakley and Dr. Terry Sejnowski. The price was right up my alley, so I had to at least try it.
The course is about 4 weeks long if you take your time, and has 5 lessons with quizzes at the end. They start you off with simple things like "What is Learning?" to get you on a starting point and going in the direction you need to be. Then they move on to something called "Chunking", which is a great tool for you to use. This is a method where you learn small bits at a time, then connect them together to make a small chuck of memory. Then take those chunks and put them together, and so forth and so on. Get the idea? It really works.
There are even optional Honors assignments you can go through as well. Bonus!
Dr. Barb Oakley walks you through many steps and also gives some tricks to help you walk your way back to being able to, at the very least, get a start retraining your brain to relax and open up.
Dr. Terry Sejnowski takes you down to the micron level on memory types, how and why, and gives you some really detailed information on how your brain works. I took a lot of notes from this dude.
This got me thinking about the process. I'm taking notes as I go, pausing videos and rewinding a bit to get all the information down and trying to make sense of everything. Then I started to realize that I was able to take some notes a little faster and summarize them. I was able to recall what I had written down. A little light went off for me. I was learning, while I was learning. I could go back in my notes and read a line, then remember what information the video went over, and understand it.
This made me to into their forums and see what other people were doing. Low and behold, more people like me doing the same thing and having very close results. Their stories sounded a lot like mine. Older than 35, looking for something new, been out of school for awhile, wanting something to help push start them and help them succeed. It also helped me t
ry some of their tricks, look at their notes, and helped me piece more things together.
The mental tools they provide, processes to help you kick yourself in the ass and focus (think Pomodoro method), and the quizzes to help you solidify the knowledge really helped me out. It made me understand that if I want to learn how to be a programmer or developer, I have to study. And this is how I can do it.
Its been a few months since I've taken this course, and honestly I'm seriously thinking about going over it again. For two reasons, I want to go over their advice on procrastination and also because I can't find my notes anymore.
But if you're on the older side of things like I am, but want to get back into something new and are having a hard time, I cannot suggest this course enough. In fact, I've even got my daughter looking into it. Hey, its free. Don't be a sucker, give yourself a better chance. I can't say enough good things about this course, it's really helped me out.