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What Mike Boyd learned in a year

4 Jan

Boing-Boing alerted me to Mike Boyd’s Youtube channel. He describes his mission this way:

My name is Mike Boyd and a while ago I made a video documenting my process of learning a new skill in a really short amount of time. That idea seemed to resonate with people, so I decided to learn a bunch of other skills. Every month I pick a new challenge and try to conquer it as quickly as possible. Hopefully this content inspires you to learn something new too. Leave a comment telling me what you think and let me know if you have a suggestion for a new challenge. Enjoy the videos! 🙂

All very much in line with what I preach here at Peakmemory.me. In this video Mike demonstrates the skills he learned in 2016:

I had never heard of the brain bike (and I am supposed to keep track of these things). While I don’t know if it really helps your brain, it does look like it would be an interesting challenge.

How many products come with a disclaimer like this?:

YOU CANNOT RIDE THIS BIKE. Seriously, you’re purchasing an unridable bicycle (at least initially). Part of the fun is figuring out how long it will take you to learn how to ride it. When I only did it for 5 minutes a day it took 8 months. I’ve seen people do nothing but the bike be able to ride it in an hour or so. There seems to be some sort of correlation with sticking with it and “powering through” the hard part. If you decide to give it a shot, I would LOVE to know your age and how long it took you so I can add your data to the mix. Smarter Every Day LLC and Barney are not responsible for any injuries sustained from trying to ride this bike. If you DO decide to attempt it at your own risk, wear a helmet.

Micro-expertise

2 Dec

There has been a lot of attention to the idea of developing expertise. We would like to know what are the most effective techniques for becoming an expert in any domain. Perhaps, we should take a more atomic view and study expertise in very small domains, such as this:

Niall Brady writes “It took me just under a year to get a spoon into a mug while filming it all on snapchat. One attempt a day. This is a compilation of the clips I remembered to save.”

Ann Patty on learning Latin

15 Jul

A fascinating Lexicon Valley podcast where linguist  John McWhorter interviews Ann Patty about her efforts to learn Latin. Patty documents her learning project in her book Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin. 

As I have said many times, learning a language is an ideal exercise for your brain. Don’t waste you time with expensive and, probably, ineffective brain training software. Learn a language instead.

The most interesting thing I learned in last Sunday’s New York Times

13 Jul

It turns out that you can buy silicone substitutes for pizza dough to practice dough tossing. You can purchase this product at throwdough.com.

 

 

 

Chess: victory to the young

27 Jun

A wonderful piece by Tom Vanderbilt in Nautilus about learning chess with his four year old daughter:

“It wasn’t long before it struck me that chess seemed to be a game for the young. When my daughter began doing scholastic tournaments, I would chat up other parents and ask whether they played—usually the reply was an apologetic shrug and a smile. I would explain that I too was learning to play, and the resulting tone was cheerily patronizing: Good luck with that! Reading about an international tournament, I was struck by a suggestion that a grandmaster had passed his peak. He was in his 30s. We are used to athletes being talked about in this way. But a mind game like chess?”

Read the whole piece, it’s a good reflection on how our brains change with age. I particularly like this sentence:

“As we get older, there is one thing at which we get worse: Being a novice.”

I always found it depressing that my phone, even set to the lowest level, can beat me at chess.

“Memorize the phrase book:” a language learning experiment

22 Dec

I am always interested people’s language learning projects and in new learning techniques. Ziggy’s  blog Memorise the Phrasebook is both and I recommend you take a look. Here is his description:

“I’m conducting an experiment to see if I can learn a language (Spanish) by memorizing a phrasebook.

I’m doing this because I think it is possible for almost anyone to learn a second language and I am looking for the easiest, cheapest, least time-consuming way to do so.

Language learning via immersion (i.e. moving to a society where the language is spoken and forcing yourself to learn it) certainly works, but it is expensive, time-consuming and not really viable for me.

And besides, in my opinion, language learning is not particularly fun. The fun part comes after you’ve reached a certain proficiency and can actually use it.

I have a phrasebook with 1500 phrases and am learning 10 phrases per day.”

I am now in the market for a Japanese phrasebook with mp3 files. Any suggestions?

 

Never too late to learn

7 Dec

Forget about expensive brain training software, instead, adopt challenging learning projects. If you need inspiration check out this illustration from Bored Panda:

too-late-to-learn-famous-late-bloomers-infographics-anna-vital-anastasia-borko-1

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