Lifelong Learning

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MYTH # 1 — STICK TO WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT

You should only follow your talents and inclinations you were born with, never venturing into new and uncharted territory, as you know beforehand that you will fail.

True?

WRONG!

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Everyone can learn and master anything they want, it only takes time and effort. Subjects we are not interested in are harder to master, as interest plays an important part in learning. Besides, we tend to procrastinate if we believe that a subject is too difficult for us, but there are methods to cope with a tendency to procrastinate. In fact, history shows us that important breakthroughs are often made by people bringing ideas and problem-solving methods from one field to another.

MYTH # 2. YOU CAN’T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

Only young people can learn effectively, older brains do not function as well.

True?

old-man-woman-at-computer

WRONG!

“..as you age, you may not learn or remember as quickly as you did when you were in school — but you will likely learn and remember nearly as well. In many cases, an older person’s brain may be less effective not because of a structural or organic problem but simply as a result of lack of use.” — http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/human-memory4.htm

MYTH # 3. DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU DROP

If you stumble against a problem you can’t solve, you should persevere and continue trying to solve it until you finally do. Taking a break is for losers!

True?

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WRONG!

If you take a break from study and go for a walk, you brain has a chance to switch into the so-called diffused mode, running in the background while you are resting or sleeping, and it might find an innovative solution to your problem – which you wouldn’t see if you kept bashing your head against the wall.

MYTH # 4. MINDLESS RE-READING AND HIGHLIGHTING EVERYTHING HELP YOU LEARN

If you want to learn something, you should re-read the relevant section of a textbook again and again, highlighting every line.

True?

highlight-in-books

WRONG!

The best way to learn something is to try and recall what you have read, keeping the highlighting to the minimum, and also to practice repeatedly over days, as this strengthens neural patterns, making new knowledge more engrained in your memory.

Spaced learning is the key to retaining new knowledge in your long-term memory. If you study for a certain period of time, maybe not more than 15 minutes a day, for months, you will learn something much better than if you crammed all those new ideas into your head in one sitting.

MYTH # 5. SMART PEOPLE MULTITASK

Multitasking is good, if you multitask all the time, you must be a genius.

True?

multitasking_rounded

WRONG!

You can be a genius, of course, but multitasking distracts your brain. You need to focus on something completely, if you want to chunk it safely into your memory to be used later on.

Worse still, there is some evidence to suggest that multitasking “kills your performance and may even damage your brain” — http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/08/multitasking-damages-your-brain-and-career-new-studies-suggest/.

MYTH # 6. ONLY IDIOTS MAKE MISTAKES

There is nothing worse than making mistakes! If you made a mistake, you are no good at learning.

True?

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WRONG!

Mistakes are GOOD. They help your learn – because if you made a mistake, that means that you have to re-visit what you’ve learned and try to understand what went wrong. This process strengthens your memory of what you are learning, embedding the knowledge deeper in your brain, solidifying the neural connections thanks to the repetition.

MYTH # 7. IT IS THE RESULT THAT MATTERS

It is the end product that should be in the focus of your attention, you should always keep your eyes on the ball and concentrate on the final result.

True?

WRONG!

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It is much more helpful to concentrate on the process, on small steps you take every day along the lengthy road towards your goal. Focus on the process helps you to prevent procrastination and automate the learning process, by turning it into a habit. Ironically, it helps you to achieve your goal while enjoying the process of getting there. For example, the end goal in learning a foreign language is to be able to speak it fluently, but you will not get there unless you get into a habit of doing seemingly mindless and boring exercises for 10 minutes every day.