How to develop learning skills, thinking skills and increase your versatility of learning?
Learning skills can be very useful when it comes to learning things, doing courses, and becoming smart. They increase your versatility of acquiring knowledge and can build up practical capabilities in you if you know how to apply knowledge in real life.
Let’s proceed with simple examples that explain how enhanced learning and expandability of your knowledge can help in your practical life.
Suppose that you learned video editing and can now edit videos professionally with Adobe Premiere Pro. You have learned video editing by knowing all functions and their uses in that software like cutting video clips, adding effects, or removing the background. After you learned all of its functions and uses, you have gained experience which you didn’t have when you couldn’t do video editing through this software. That is — you learned how much time (4–5 months) it requires to learn editing through this software. You can correlate this value with your learning method, which means, it took you 4–5 months by learning in that way. Now after you have gained experience and some knowledge of this software, even after a year if you forget some of the functionality of this software, you can easily learn it again which means revising your old knowledge. Now suppose you learn a more difficult video editing software ‘Final Cut Pro’ (it takes 1 year to learn it completely). Since you already know some of the basic functions and tools of video editing software before, it will take less amount of time to learn this one. The second time you learned took less amount of time and given this fact you may realize that it takes less amount of time to learn something if you already have the foundational knowledge of it.
Let’s extend this example.
Suppose that you have now learned both software and can edit videos professionally, and can add amazing effects into the videos. Now you can work for YouTubers or other people, which would be your business.
But at this point, your understanding is only limited to the functionality of editing software and how to use them. You still don’t know how such software is developed or how such amazing features are developed that can be used to edit videos to make such amazing videos. You can still trace how such features (like amazing effects, editing characters in the video) are developed in that software by knowing their function; that is — the interface between how that feature is coded within the program and its function. And this includes a specific type of code that makes such a feature possible. At this point, if you understood that the functionality of something extends beyond how it just works, you can take further steps and those are — to start learning programming, and program building, the basics of development of video editing software, and the more complex forms of features that can be built in video editing software.
In his whole example, we have discussed how extending knowledge or having creative insight can help us know what we don’t know and how we can move towards building more skills.
The conclusion is that you can learn something more quickly if you already have the foundational knowledge of it, or have a smart mind for it.
This case can also be applied to learning mathematics. Mathematics also has foundational concepts and many priori axioms which form the foundation of more complex equations. For example, calculus mostly involves complex equations that can only be solved if someone has knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. If someone doesn’t know the use of priori axioms, the application of algebraic equations in higher-level mathematics, he wouldn’t be able to understand the calculus to the level of solving it easily.
This means, to be proficient in something, we have to learn its essence and foundation. And to learn more quickly or increase the learning capacity we have to learn how to learn and use maximum mental capability rather than learning it in the normal way. Smart work is an advanced form of hard work.
Knowledge is a fundamental asset that gives us insight and such insight forms the basis of doing something if you know how knowledge can be applied.
By knowing art, illustrations, how aesthetic things attract people, and how specifically ordered art attracts, even more, you can be a good graphic designer and make amazing graphics or themes for people, especially for organizations who want some amazing logo designs.
Skills come after gaining knowledge. Skills mean proficiency with what you can do something. Most of the time abstract knowledge isn’t required for practical skills. For example, a professional footballer who is very good at doing goals and throwing the football at a very high speed doesn’t know the physics of football movement, and at what angle football must be thrown to increase the trajectory of it towards the opponent’s goal so his teammate can easily take next move; to throw it into the goal. Most of the time, he plays professionally after having much practice of running, hands and feet movement which becomes subconscious later.
Abstract knowledge can only increase our understanding to the level of performing a task (that requires skill), in a way, that we can understand our potential mistakes or learn how to improve. As I’ve explained before, if a graphic designer knows the interests of people and what designs look more aesthetic, or what specific order or design in animation attract most people and can outperform the animations/designs of his competitors (other graphic designers), he can get most good reviews. And easily turn his ideas and such knowledge into a profitable business.
So, we can enhance our skills with more abstract knowledge.
Here’s the outline of what you should consider when developing learning and thinking skills:
· Understand your limitations
· Take courses
· Gain abstract insight into what you do
· Develop Learning skills
Understanding your limitations
There’s a cognitive bias named as “Dunning-Krugger effect” which explains the tendency of unskilled people to overestimate their capability in given objective criteria. It happens, when someone doesn’t realize his limitations and relies upon his optimistic tendency to see his proficiency or amount of knowledge he has.
Understanding your limitation is much more important, otherwise, it would be self-deception to overestimate yourself too much. Limitations tell us how should we improve or move forward. If life could be made perfect, there wouldn’t be a need for any endeavor to achieve something. There’s an interesting thing that happened when the government of a country named Zimbabwe, started printing much money to make everyone rich in their country. It resulted in very high demand for products and services which decreased the supply of those products/services. And to balance that, the companies/service providers had to increase the price, and a rapid increase in value and prices to balance the system resulted in an enormous fall in the value of that currency and that caused hyperinflation.
Take online courses
First thing is to start taking courses on critical thinking, problem-solving and computational thinking to improve your thinking capability which you will apply in your practical life. These 2 types of thinking are fundamental tools to understand problems and concepts more abstractly to increase your insight.
With critical thinking, you can make correct decisions by evaluating all possible outcomes of an issue to take further action and can also recognize any negative outcome. For example, critical thinking can be used to decide what can be a good career for your future based on your capabilities. If you have to choose from; graphic designing, teaching, freelancing, and business management, you will need to predict the outcome, benefits, easiness, and satisfaction that any of these can give you based on your skills. If you are good at art, animation, editing, and have a tendency to impress and influence other people, you may choose graphic designing. It will provide you easiness, satisfaction, and would be easier for you because your capabilities are related to the nature of graphic designing.
And with problem-solving, you can build a mindset of solving daily-life problems and once it becomes your practice you would be proficient at many things which would have given you dissatisfaction if you weren’t able to solve them. For example, I learned how to solve most PC and windows problems, and now it doesn’t dissatisfy me because my work on PC is smooth now.
Gain abstract insight into what you do
There is where the use of computational thinking intervenes. Computational thinking means understanding and abstracting problems to the level that it becomes easy to decide what you have to do to solve them. It means splitting the problems into smaller parts to solve them. It also has a similar application in mathematics. For example, to find the area of a randomly shaped 2D-object, we can estimate its area by dividing it into many small rectangles and adding up the area of all rectangles. The rest area; of triangular parts can be found by formulas used for triangles and adding up their area. And the sum of all rectangles and triangles would be the approximate area of that object.
Computational thinking means understanding the problem at a deeper level and using concepts to solve it. With increased understanding and knowledge, you can know the essence and foundation of anything which provides you the tool to manipulate the object to solve many problems. Undoubtedly, mathematics is a way of abstracting objects and elements to solve many problems.
To apply computation thinking, you have to first understand the type of problem. Suppose you are compelled to make a PowerPoint presentation on the topic of “Usefulness of web3.0”. You would first need to understand the important elements you have to add to this presentation to make it most attractive. You can make points like (suppose):
· Data security as the core element of web3.0
· Blockchain technology provides many uses for online businesses
· AI-powered semantic web creates better understanding between humans and computers
And so on. Then you can make plans and ways of representing your information. Recognize the best animations and effects, you can add to this presentation. And finalize your project!
This is a type of problem that involves making projects. It can be solved by computational thinking by following steps:
1. Recognize the most important elements of your projects — Understanding the problem
2. Divide the procedure of completing the project into steps — Dividing the problem-solving procedure into steps:
· Add important elements in your project
· Make it attractive
· Make it specific
· Research some necessary information required for the project and apply those details into your project
· See if there’s an error
3. Finalize your project — Conclude the solution with final impressions
Another way of gaining abstract insight is through analytical thinking which is one of the thinking skills that can also be applied to learning that can provide any student a tool to have increased knowledge and proficiency in solving questions and problems, and also help in creating excellent representations of exam or test paper to achieve high marks. Most students might be unaware of it.
Analytical thinking means a type of thinking or tendency to analyze and evaluate problems and concepts to extract useful information out of them. And such useful information can be used to solve many issues or apply them in other matters.
Developing Learning Skills
It is a common form of learning method that involves visualizing the problems and concepts to learn them more quickly. For example, students use diagrams and visual pictures or perform experiments to better understand the essence of a scientific concept.
It is not much difficult to apply, you just need to learn how to represent concepts and ideas in form of pictures or diagrams within your mind or on paper. Visualization makes learning much easier because 75% of what we learn is through sight, while others are less: 13% through sound, 6% through touch, 3% through smell, and 3% through taste.
That’s why visualization is much important in learning. Visualization means the art of seeing concepts with big pictures. You can visualize concepts by following ways:
· Imagine the concept as a story in your mind
· Use diagrams
· Visualize the cause-effect relationship between various objects
2. Analogous learning
It is a form of learning that most people subconsciously use. They are unaware of how their mind uses analogous reasoning to understand problems and concepts.
Analogous learning means understanding new concepts by recognizing analogies or previously known principles in those new concepts. For example: to understand the physics of sound, we understand how disturbance/periodic movement in air molecules produces sound waves by knowing the analogy that how a chain reaction starts with a periodic motion by a disturbance in the system.
How to be good at analogous learning?
You can learn and develop this learning method by formulating analogies, patterns, and specific structures in your mind, that explain specific concepts for your future learning and speculation.
1) To understand the analogy, means to understand the underlying principle of a concept, and if another concept even if different from that one has the same underlying principle, it can easily be understood. For example, to understand the Bernoulli theorem and energy production through nuclear fission, in-depth, you may need to understand the analogy of conservation of energy (whether it’s water-energy or energy stored in atoms). By knowing this concept, you can simplify any other diverse concept that involves the conservation of energy to this analogy. The explanation that Bernoulli theorem gives, for why total energy (potential and kinetic) at all points within a closed cylinder remains constant, is based on conservation of energy and the principle that energy can’t be destroyed in a closed system. And by knowing this fact, it becomes easy to derive the equation for equivalency of energies. And the process of production of electric energy through nuclear fission in power plants is also explained by the conservation of mass into energy and how the quantity of radioactive mass (for fission reaction) at the nuclear level produces an enormous amount of energy by colliding neutrons on them. By knowing how the conservation of nuclear energy works, you can easily understand further concepts like a nuclear chain reaction which involves the fission of many atomic nuclei to release much more energy.
2) By finding patterns or developing a sense of finding patterns in concepts, you can easily understand them. You can do this if you can visualize those concepts in your mind. For example: to study the nuclear chain reaction in depth, you may need to understand the underlying pattern it involves — the excess movement of neutrons towards other radioactive nuclei (uranium) produces further nuclear fissions.
3. Analytical thinking
You must be good at critical thinking, problem-solving, and abstracting information before you can apply this type of thinking.
Analytical thinking means a type of thinking with which you can analyze and evaluate problems and concepts to derive useful information or make creative solutions to problems.
A recent study has found that people who can think analytically are more likely to be successful in their careers. The study, which was conducted by online learning platform Coursera, looked at data from over 10 million students and found that those who excelled in analytical thinking skills were more likely to achieve better grades and achieve greater success in their careers. This means that if you want to achieve great things in your career, learning how to think analytically is a key skill that you need to develop.
In the business world, it’s important to be able to apply analytical thinking in order to make sound decisions. This skill is essential for problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making. When faced with a difficult situation, it’s helpful to be able to break it down into its component parts and then come up with a plan of action. By applying analytical thinking to your business problems, you will be able to come up with solutions that are both effective and efficient.
How to develop analytical thinking?
You can develop analytical thinking in the following ways:
· Study difficult books involving complex ideas and learn how complex concepts and abstraction works
· Learn critical thinking and ways of abstracting information
· Learn how to analyze and evaluate the problems and information
· Practice analyzing the concepts and problems.
· Learn to organize information
· Learn to derive meaningful information or solutions out of your assessments and analyses
1. Study difficult books
I would recommend you z-library for reading books which provide free access to all types of books on literature, philosophy, psychology, and science.
By reading difficult books like philosophical books, you can get insight into complex concepts which will provide the foundation of abstract knowledge. Your mind has a lot of capabilities, you may need to focus on intellectual activities to retain them and become smart.
2. Learn critical thinking & ways of abstracting information
You can take courses on critical thinking or learn more about it by knowing its psychology. Critical thinking involves making analyses about the given problem for making decisions or judgments. By having some insight into abstract knowledge, you can be a critical thinker. It’s all about a critical investigation where you focus your mind on a specific subject.
Critical thinking goes in form of this pattern:
Focus on specific subject > deep analyses of that thing > making a decision based on analyses > Reaching a conclusion
So, first thing is to become focused in learning. Then you may need to assess or understand issues into a deeper level, or a level that goes beyond the representation or actual appearance of that concept, and then make a decision or conclusion based on your assessment.
For example: by following this pattern of critical thinking, you can make a correct time-table to manage time. It goes through the following steps:
· Find out which activities are important for you and which are not and categorize them into two options: trivial and important
· Find out how much time you have
· Find out how much free time you have
· Recognize any time-draining or non-worthy activities
· Complete your assessment
Here’s the detail:
Trivial activities: Scrolling through the internet when nothing to do, opening refrigerator for no reason, randomly chatting with people
Important: Work, work out, school/college studies, meal, reading books, making a to-do list for next day
· According to psychology, high-dopamine activities that make people addicted, like using the internet, using phone, eating fast food, make people lazy and dull at work and decay their focus on intellectual or low-dopamine activities.
· So, important activities must be done first and then other high-dopamine activities.
· Time-draining activities (trivial) must be eliminated
So, time table should be such that important and work activities are done first, and other activities later. And time-draining activities must be removed.
It can be:
8:00 am — 8:30 — — — — Breakfast
8:30 am — 11:00 — — — — Study
11:00 am — 12:00 — — — Internet
12:00 pm — 1:00 — — — — Work out
1:00 pm — 1:30 — — — — Lunch
1:30 pm — 2:00 — — — — — Internet
2:00 pm — 3:00 — — — — — Sleep
3:00 pm — 4:30 — — — — — Study
4:30 pm — 6:00 — — — — — Outdoor activity
6:00 pm — 7:00 — — — — — Read books
7:00 pm — 8:00 — — — — — Study
8:00 pm — 8:30 — — — — — Dinner
8:30 pm — 10:00 — — — — Video games
10:00 pm — 11:00 — — — More video games?
Analytical thinking can also be used in learning to increase your insight and learning capability. This type of thinking basically involves looking at given information from multiple perspectives and interpreting it into a comprehensive form.
Learn how to analyze problems and concepts
You can analyze problems by various ways:
· Understanding the essence of the problem
· Splitting the problem into smaller parts
· Abstracting every element of the problem
The most fundamental way to analyze a problem is by splitting it into smaller parts to make it comprehensible, as I’ve explained before.
Suppose a problem: You are given only $25 to invest in 2 different cryptocurrencies and have to get a return of more than $30 (more than$5 profit).
You can split this problem into 2 elements: deciding 2 less volatile cryptocurrencies for that and need of a minimum of $5 profit. The volatility of crypto must be less so that your profit doesn’t drop much for the small amount you are investing in ($12.5 for both cryptocurrencies).
So, now you can easily recognize how this problem can be solved. You would just need to read coin market value and current status of various cryptocurrencies and find out which crypto’s price is increasing with less volatility so if you invest $12.5 in it would increase to $14, $15, or more. Or even if it decreases by a few dollars, you can wait (since its price has low volatility) till you gain $15 again. Do the same with another crypto. And once you earn a total of $30 out of $25 by investing in both cryptocurrencies, you can withdraw at right time and you will get $5 as what was needed.
There can be many other problems like these. You can split problems into their components by recognizing the essence of the problem which defines that problem. The above example is of type ‘investing’, so it can be split into smaller components like ‘the right tool for investing’, ‘the right place for investing’, ‘target amount to be earned in investing’. And for problems like ‘creating projects’, the smaller components can be ‘recognition of the goal of the project’, ‘representation of project’, ‘important elements of the project’, ‘the material to be used for projects, etc.
To split any problem into its components, you may need to know the type of problem and its essence.
Another way of analyzing a problem is through abstracting it. You can learn abstracting problems by computational thinking. Abstracting the problem means understanding the problem theoretically to solve it. For example, you can also solve that investment problem (explained above) simply by doing coin analyses to choose the right coins to get desired profit within time.
Practice analyzing the problems and concepts
Once you learn how to analyze problems, you can make this process your practice. By spending much time again and again on developing a skill, you don’t only learn it, but also you get an ever-increasing number of experiences that may teach you even more. By practicing analyzing the problems, you would not feel difficulty in solving new and more difficult types of problems in the future.
Learn to organize information
It’s an important task in analytical thinking. Organizing the information is prior to deriving useful information from given information, so you would need to learn that first.
Since, analytical thinking is all about evaluating and analyzing given information for deriving meaningful points or potential solutions, you need to learn how to simplify diverse information and extract important points out of it.
You can also do this by making conceptual classification between many elements of the provided information: pattern recognition, conceptual decomposition, or by focusing on main points.
Pattern recognition means finding patterns in complicated information. For example: in data explaining the increasing prices of different products, you can find the inflation rate by knowing the pattern which prices (increasing) follows due to various factors. And classify the inflation rate of each product into a separate category. And by studying all categories, you can find the average inflation rate or derive another meaningful point.
Conceptual decomposition means splitting the concepts into smaller concepts and details.
You can also organize information by focusing on main points or the most obvious points of given information. Another alternative of this method is making a priority sequence of concepts in the given information. Learn to prioritize different things involved in given information based on their importance and then start by looking at the most important ones.
By all of these methods, you can classify information into different elements for scrutiny. Once you organize various elements of given information it becomes easy to understand the given information and you can take the next step which is to derive meaningful information or develop creative solutions.
Learn to derive useful information and insights out of given information
In order to learn how to derive useful information out of given information, make sure you have learned abstraction and techniques of organizing information. The tendency to extract useful information depends on your learning and thinking skills.
Now, to learn to derive useful information from given information, you will need to introduce the following things into your practice:
· Extracting information based on specific purpose — purpose-specific approach
· Extracting information based on your own purpose — creative-approach
· Making solutions for the problems in given information — critical thinking
· Checking the validity of information — skepticism
Let’s first talk about skepticism. It means a process of finding doubts or uncertainties in the given information. It’s important because we don’t have to rely on inauthentic information. To criticize or skepticize the given information, you would need to go beyond what is discussed in the given information. This means, spotting any conceptual error or recognizing if the given information is taken from an authentic source or not.
2) Purpose-specific approach
With this approach, you can extract such information that fulfills the purpose of the given information. It means, scrutinizing the information for the sake of its purpose.
To do this, you may need to first understand the purpose and essence of given data/information. It starts with recognizing a proposition that is not included in the given information. For example, the data showing an increase in prices of products don’t include the inflation rate or further deductions, but it is up to the reader how he interprets. And the proposition of inflation rate (not included in given information) is what we have to recognize, which tells us the purpose of the given information associated with it.
For other types of information that include such propositions (that include the synthetic concept in them), you would need to recognize what’s something that can be added to given information as a new deduction. For example: if data show an increase in prices along with inflation rates, the point that can be further extracted out of it is creating a graph that correlates the specific increase of prices with the inflation rate. And such kind of deduction, if added to the given information, would add something new to it — how a specific inflation rate is related to a specific increase in prices for those products. And this information can be used to develop solution to decrease inflation, by increasing the amount of supply to balance that specific price increase.
A creative approach means extracting useful points out of given information for your own purpose. And it would require creative thinking for that purpose.
For example, you can use the graphs of price changes of cryptocurrencies to judge which cryptocurrency is performing well at price and has more demand. You can also make coin analyses. And by knowing that, you can make a future plan on how investment in those coins will benefit you — since its exponentially increasing price would give you much profit as compared to other cryptocurrencies.
4) Developing solutions
The analyses of given information can also be used to find creative solutions to the problems that given information includes, or find solutions to problems external to that.
After you have understood the whole issue/information and organized it, you can develop solutions. And the solutions must be based on your understanding of cause-effect, that if you proceed with a solution, it must give the outcome that may solve the problem or issue. This process involves the following steps:
· Complete assessment of the issue (prior to developing solution)
· Focus on the best possible outcome for an issue to solve it
· Develop a solution based on the above 2 points
Learning and thinking skills can be a great tool if you want to enter a technical or diverse field like programming, data analyses, data science, etc., or even to solve your daily life problems. The point of such skills is to increase your versatility of learning which also benefits you intellectually, as it increases your accumulation of knowledge and your capability to apply that knowledge in practical life.
Life may not be all about success or achieving something in practical life, but also about the learning that is entailed in philosophy and abstractness.