Closing learning loops, or bridges over new knowledge
I have been thinking about writing a few posts about learning techniques and methods. I don’t want to turn my blog into a productivity or life hacking blog, but there are a few thoughts about the way that I approach learning that I wanted to write down somewhere and get out.
When I think about approaching a totally ‘green field’ area of knowledge for me, I do probably the same thing most web-savvy people do: I start hitting Google. However, this is where I think there is a divergence in behaviour between different people. The exact search terms use in a search are an art form unto itself, and interpreting the initial results and iteration/refinement of the search all play critical roles in how the initial material looks.
I envision my search starting off on the ‘shores’ of my own knowledge. I will often think about what is the closest known peninsula of knowledge that seems to jut out in the direction of where I think I need to go and start from there. After that, searching and gathering new knowledge is a lot like little islands popping up on the horizon, and it is my job to build bridges between the relevant points of knowledge.
Ultimately though, the bridges over the sea of new knowledge must end up on land again in order to ‘close the loop’ of new knowledge! I think that this is one of the most critical aspects of retaining the knowledge and forming a foundation for expanding on the newly learned material. It also forms the basis for true understanding. Once the loop is complete the bridges can give way to highways as the information becomes integrated into the corpus of well traveled pathways in my brain. Eventually, the areas between the loops can be filled in and even becomes solid dry land of knowledge, and forms a new jumping off point for the process to begin anew.