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10 counterintuitive quotes on learning that will make you a better student

10 counterintuitive quotes on learning that will make you a better student

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the most successful and impactful investors, scientists, and innovators don’t think the way most of us do about learning – and there’s a reason.

Most conventional wisdom about learning, studying, and education is either mis-guided or wrong.

Here are 10 quotes that will have you reconsidering everything you thought you knew about school.

1. “I have never let schooling interfere with my education” – Mark Twain

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    This popular Twain-ism refers to “education” more as your lifelong process of figuring out how to navigate the world. School is a small part of that, and in many ways can interfere with learning: imposing strict boundaries, oversimplifying otherwise interesting and complex topics, and more generally making “education” into regimented work rather than creative discovery.

    Action: Think about your coursework in the context of your life’s learning arc: how does it fit in and how can you take control and select what you want or need to learn along the way?

    2. “The one real object of education is to leave a person in the condition of continually asking questions.” – Bishop Mandell Creighton

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      The point isn’t to get the answer, the point is to develop understanding. Unlike what most formal learning institutions preach, the best way to do that is – you guessed it – to find the right questions to ask. (This is what Socrates knew 2,000+ years ago.) Only then should you pursue an answer.

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      Action: Stop thinking, “How do I find the answer?” and start thinking “What questions should I be asking?”

      3. “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.” – Charlie Munger

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        Munger attributes much of his (and Berkshire Hathaway’s) investing success to accumulating as many “mental models” as possible in diverse fields, by reading widely and continuously. And like Twain believed, he thoroughly embodies learning as a life-long journey. The classroom is just society’s overly-formalized attempt at capturing that process.

        Action: Don’t limit yourself to what you’re learning in class. Read widely and often, and it will pay off across the board.

        4. “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.” – Galileo

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          No one can insert knowledge into your brain, they can only guide and point you in the right direction. In this sense, teachers aren’t really “teaching” you anything, they’re only there to attempt to facilitate your own self-discovery.

          Action: Don’t rely on someone else to spoon-feed you the answer and put the knowledge in your head; only you can do that. Side benefit: most teachers actually have no clue what they’re doing, so the more you take control of your own learning future, the further ahead you’ll jump.

          5. “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of mental laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” – Tim Ferriss

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            Your textbook is only important if it gives you insights that help you score well on the test.

            Your homework is only important if it solidifies your knowledge.

            Highlighting printouts of lecture slides is never important.

            So take it from the master of effective learning, and stop fooling yourself into thinking you’re being productive, when really you’re just filling your time with “studying” because that’s what everyone says you should do.

            Action: Question what you spend your study time on – and make sure it lines up with what will get you to understand the material and maximize your grade in the course. Hint: past exams and the grading breakdown on the syllabus should be the first place to start.

            6. “I’m skeptical of a lot of what falls under the rubric of education…. People are on these tracks. They are getting these credentials and it’s very unclear how viable they are in many cases.” – Peter Thiel

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              Thiel, famous for funding promising high-schoolers and early college students not to go to college with his Thiel Fellowship program, invites you to step back and think about why you’re in school. Despite your parents’ insistence, don’t get a degree just because you think you like the subject or think you need it to “get a job.”

              Action: Consider the usefulness and applicability of your degree program. And, after careful reflection, if it doesn’t make sense, don’t be afraid to get out or switch to something better.

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              7. “Some people will never learn anything for this reason: because they understood everything too soon.” – Alexander Pope

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                It’s uncomfortable to hold an un-answered question in your head for too long, but it’s a critical skill for learning.

                A typical student will try to grab onto whatever they can grasp early, and then pat themselves on the back and move on.

                A smart student will allow themselves to be confused, and work over-time to integrate a new concept with their previous knowledge, eventually developing a much deeper and nuanced understanding of the topic.

                Action: When you hear something new, wait 24 hours to form an opinion about it – let it simmer and mix with everything else you know first.

                8. “If something makes logical sense, if it’s connected to what you already know, you’ll rarely have to memorize it…” – Adam Robinson

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                  By continually building a framework for understanding the material and consolidating your notes, the information becomes cemented in your long-term memory, with the added benefit of being able to handle novel or complex test questions.

                  How much better does that sound than slogging through a 1,000+ page textbook trying to re-read the same explanation, hoping it sinks in?

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                  Action: Put away the flash cards, and start making connections to the mental frameworks you already have by practicing active learning and solving problems from scratch.

                  9. “The shrewd guess, the fertile hypothesis, the courageous leap to a tentative conclusion – these are the most valuable coin of the thinker at work. But in most schools guessing is heavily penalized and is somehow associated with laziness.” – Jerome Seymour Bruner

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                    Guessing is actually a sophisticated art that activates your brain and helps to solidify new information. It provides the initial point for a feedback loop that allows you to see if your final solution makes sense, and adjust your intuition to better fit the answer if your guess was off.

                    Action: On your next homework assignment, go through and write down a guess for each question before you go through and try to solve it – then check that guess against your final answers.

                    10. “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” – Richard P. Feynman

                    Photo credit: Tamiko Thiel

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                      If you have passion for something, and make time to focus on it, you’ll find it almost effortless to learn it deeply. Learning in your own unique way also personalizes the information, and makes it easier to pull it out of your memory when you really need it.

                      Action: Ask yourself “what am I most interested in” and write down 10 different ways you could learn about it more deeply.

                      Featured photo credit: Heisenberg Media via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on September 18, 2019

                      15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

                      15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

                      You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

                      Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

                      A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

                      Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

                      So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

                      1. Purge Your Office

                      De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

                      Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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                      Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

                      2. Gather and Redistribute

                      Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

                      3. Establish Work “Zones”

                      Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

                      Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

                      4. Close Proximity

                      Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

                      5. Get a Good Labeler

                      Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

                      6. Revise Your Filing System

                      As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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                      What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

                      Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

                      • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
                      • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
                      • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
                      • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
                      • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
                      • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
                      • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

                      Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

                      7. Clear off Your Desk

                      Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

                      If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

                      8. Organize your Desktop

                      Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

                      Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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                      Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

                      9. Organize Your Drawers

                      Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

                      Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

                      10. Separate Inboxes

                      If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

                      11. Clear Your Piles

                      Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

                      Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

                      12. Sort Mails

                      Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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                      13. Assign Discard Dates

                      You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

                      Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

                      14. Filter Your Emails

                      Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

                      When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

                      Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

                      15. Straighten Your Desk

                      At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

                      Bottom Line

                      Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

                      Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

                      More Organizing Hacks

                      Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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