Learning How to Learn

I’ve just started with another Coursera course — this one about learning in general. The course is called Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. It’s actually a fairly easy going course, as far as I can see. The assignments and quizzes are fairly straight forward for the most part but the important bit is that the instructors share their life experiences about learning. I hope to be able to get through this course — I have enough ambition that I’ve even signed up for the paid “Signature Track” version of the course.

One important mental tool that I found really interesting is how to use the diffused thought model to get new ideas regarding difficult to solve problems. It’s best explained in the videos through Edison’s example: He would sit on his chair and let his hand hang on a side — while holding a few ball bearings in it. He would then relax and let his mind wander, drifting off towards sleep. The mind would shift to diffused thinking and would eventually find some new avenue to explore to help solve the issue at hand. This usually happens when you’re about to fall asleep — and that is where the ball bearings come into play. They would fall down creating a bit of a racket pulling him back from sleep so that he could grasp the fledging ideas and put them on paper. Cool trick!