Strategies for Learning:

Utilize Critical Thinking when analyzing new information:“Tell a man you disagree with him, and he will turn away. Show them facts and figures and he will question your sources. Appeal to Logic and he will fail to see your point”. -Leon Festinger

This phenomenon is known as Cognitive Dissonance, when you encounter information or facts that contradict your current beliefs or ideas you will tend to undermine contrary ideas to restore mental consistency. This is an issue for Critical Thinking since allowing your own mind to limit what you can learn base on past or current beliefs will limit your possibilities; instead, dare yourself to be uncomfortable, examine your own beliefs and do not disregard opposing information based on opinions. Always use the same strong analytic approach you use to disprove a contrary argument on your own which will amplify your understanding of the big picture.

Create Strong Positive Associations:“Cells that fire together wire together” -Donald Hebb

When a baby hears footsteps coming up a staircase, the baby gets excited because his brain associates that sound with positive feelings of being pick up and hold. When you see an old friend that always make you laugh, your mood improves before he or she even says a word. When you’re an adult your brain is constantly reshaping those connections and when you learn something new, you do so by creating a new association; for example, if you are learning a new language you will associate new words to images or concepts that are related to it.

If you are struggling to understand a difficult concept or start a new habit, start by breaking it down and creating a positive association that is repeated constantly and simultaneously on a schedule. For instance, I have recently started a habit of walking in the mornings which has proof to be a challenge since not every day I have the right mood to go out on a walk; however, by associating walking with a minimal optimal goal ( 5 minutes on my worst day) and a specific time frame (first thing in the morning) and the motivational factor ( the feeling of progress towards the goal of improving my wellbeing) I have been able to keep it up and go on longer 15-20 minute walks. Each time you repeat a habit you are activating those associations, reinforcing that connection in you brain, making it easier for you or harder if is a bad habit. When you take on a new project the biggest risk is not advancing slowly but the propensity to give up when a goal is unreasonable, generic or undefined.

Make it Meaningful- “Learning is achieved when knowledge is revisited through active participation and reasoning to construct Meaning”. -Jerome Bruner

When you are a kid and they want to teach you about science, they take you to field trips and show you fun experiments and then you grow a little bit and learning becomes more boring, long and you start seeing dull textbook with complicated concepts; then they wonder why there are million of students dropping out of high school and college every year.

Learning can be challenging but fun at the same time, you don’t need to wait for a full educational system reform to develop your own learning system. We do not learn by a passive absorption of information; therefore, in some cases after reading 30 pages of material you could find yourself knowing nothing about what you are reading.

Identify key concepts on a material and get exposure to different learning methods, if you are a visual learner make a graph or read it out loud and record it if you are more auditive learner; make it simpler, more familiar and above all more memorable by studying with a goal and making the time you spend studying more meaningful. A great professor once told me that if I was not able to tell him out loud what I knew about the material I read, is because I had not mastered the content. This was difficult to understand but it is true, if you can’t tell someone with your own words what you know is because your knowledge is insufficient. There are many factors and resources involved on learning but all the responsibility and the consequences will rest upon you, your mind is powerful and able to keep on learning and accomplishing anything you set a goal for if you are aware that 15 minutes of intentional learning is way more worthy than two hours of apparent study while your mind wanders around what to get for lunch or other responsibilities.

Now that you know these three Learning Strategies which are Critical Thinking, Association Building and Constructing Meaning, take a break or better on take a nap!!!; then come back and review the strategies. Once more take a few hours to do something else and then test your Mind; –Are you able to remember what these three strategies are?

This is based on another tip coming from Bluma Zeigarnik (Russian Psychologist 1901-1988) that conducted numbers research that indicate that the interruption of a task, as impractical as it sounds, has proof to increase their chances of the task being remembered.

The Learning Reform

As technology progresses the further apart we distant from the traditional school methods. There is one part of us who loves the experiences and interactions of being on campus; however that is not ideal for busy professionals who needs to balance a job or a family. Online learning have open the doors of many University for millions of people; in fact according to WCET (Distance Education Enrollment) there has been an increase from 1.6 to 5.8 million people who are taking online classes (2002-2014) in about 12 years. It is difficult to measure how important is to have access to education. According to the Bureau of Statistics an increase of the level of education contributes to higher earnings.

Bureau of Statistics 2017 Biweekly Earnings Average
Bachelor Degree $1,173
Associate Degree $836
High School $712
Less than High School $500

              Having a Degree will definitely help on reaching your financial goals; however if going to College is just not for you, there are many great opportunities for self-starter entrepreneurs and artist who wants to venture in the Digital World or even learn new skills you never thought you would. Society is always trying to program us to do one thing, to be one thing but reality is that in order to survive we ought to be more than that. I will ask you a question, Mention three activities you do every day that you enjoy or need to do in a daily basis?-perhaps you are a video gamer, a graphic design artist and a musician, a mother of five or maybe you are a Sales Consultant, student and a pet owner like me. There are so many things we do and so many things we can learn, even having a Degree is not going to be good enough. In the next twenty five years according to a study published in Oxford University, there are going to be new jobs out there and some of our jobs (47 % of them) might become obsolete that is why is important to be open to learn new skills. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions of the world and it has come a long way from its creation in 1969. There are so many free sites like YouTube, Google, online courses willing to give you new opportunities to start your next project. The main purpose of investing in learning something new is to maximize the value of your most precious asset that we spend every day on mindless tasks instead of following our passions, we must learn to appreciate Time.