I wanted to put some thoughts up on learning that I have picked up from a career as a trainer. We learn in stages. Also, we also learn differently, so any training material we come across may work better or not as good as something that is geared specifically to our strengths in learning. These concepts might not seem revolutionary but the implications can help us work with the learning process rather then fighting it.
Ok, I will tackle the second point first as it is a quicker topic. We’ve all heard the ‘I learn better from reading’ or ‘I learn better from videos (show me)’ debates. There is also the ‘I learn better from doing’ etc… The idea is that our brains seem wired to take in data in one primary format and so we naturally gravitate towards that format. While that is the format that we will get the most out of with our time spent and so makes sense to focus on, the other methods are critical in our learning process. It is too easy to focus too much on the one that gives us the most reward the quickest but that is somewhat akin to trying to survive on junk food. Each method of learning has specific things that we learn from them that we don’t learn other ways. At each level of our development, we need to actively incorporate the other methods to advance to the next stage. This is the number one reason people get stuck at a certain level of understanding/learning from my experience. They focus on their primary method of learning and don’t attend to the other methods. So again, at each stage of learning, we must actively incorporate some of the other methods of learning that are not our primary. If we prefer to sit back and watch videos or read, we need to take the time to do exercises (that one seems obvious.) But also, if we tend to watch videos, we want to take the time to do some reading up on what we are trying to learn. If we tend to read, we should take time to watch some videos, and finally, if we tend to do exercises, we really want to take time to do both videos and reading . It will pay off in the end.
The first point, we learn in stages. I like to watch videos, but this pertains to either of the other primary methods of learning as well. If we go through material we think is at our level, it makes sense.. but actually, it is a level beyond our current level. That is, we can understand pretty well a level beyond our current level and often think that’s the level we are at… until we try to do it on our own. So, what if our primary method is doing? Well it’s the same actually, just that it expresses itself in our inability to do related level exercises on our own, that is, we have not fully developed the transferable skills to function the width of the level, our ability is restricted to a subset of that level, thus we still get a misinterpretation of our true level because we can do some exercises at a level above our true level.
If we go two levels above our current level, we can understand it for the most part but we start missing details and we can only remember the steps involved right after watching/reading/doing something. In a very short time after, our memory starts to fade. This is the point where most people become frustrated, as we think I know this, I just can’t seem to remember it. The truth is, we don’t know it we simply understand when it’s explained to us, without even being at a level of storing any of it.
If we get three levels beyond our current level, we get the general gist of what is being explained, or at least think we do, but know we don’t understand it fully. This level we can form opinions that are not accurate if we aren’t careful because we might have gotten a misinterpretation of the information being presented. But it also can work in our favor in giving us a longer term general guidance in our bearings. We want to make use of this level of learning usually, but with a note of caution.
Each level we learn, shifts the previous levels down one and opens up a new level.
We must attend to each type of learning in my experience to move up to the next level.
We are typically resistant to using methods that are not our primary and thus tend to retard our own growth.
There is another aspect to this that I will explain with an example now. It was my own learning through DAZ’s very good videos. Before I even downloaded DAZ, I watched some of their starter videos. This is part of what made up my mind that this was a path I wanted to invest in. They showed me a lot, but when I actually went to apply the information in the videos, I kept having problems with not being able to apply them step by step. As I was totally new to the material, I would miss things like selecting items in the scene tab in order to work with it. That and a million other little things kept tripping me up. So, I watched, I practiced, I read… and over time, I advanced. Note, I watched the videos mutliple times, but I only really absorbed them at the level I was on… not even beginner, but newbie. After I finally got my feet under me with that, I drifted away from the beginner videos and started on more intermediate ones. This reset my learning for that level and I found myself in the same predicament of having to do exercises, reading, over and over. After a bit of this I realized I was missing some things from the previous level so I went back to the beginner level videos and was now able to follow along at an entirely different pace and understanding. I decided to go back through the exercises presented and this time it wasn’t a chore. Doing so pointed out various areas I was missing on and filled in some blanks. Going back to the intermediate level videos made more sense. But, although I was watching and practicing intermediate level videos, I was only at beginner stage, having graduated from newbie, since that was the level I could work at without struggling. See, it’s easy to fool ourselves we are a level beyond what we are at when we can do some exercises at that more advanced level.
While I was doing this, I was going through material on things like shader builder, scripting, etc and got the gist of what they were talking about, but this was actually two levels beyond me.
I have now graduated to what I consider intermediate level, and am still going back to the beginner videos just now. Much of what they are showing, I could show people myself. However, I am still getting tidbits from watching them that are increasing not only my overall understanding but making me much more efficient with little things that make a difference. This appears to be a good way of telling us what level we are at, If we can teach something confidently to others and not miss steps, (even though we might miss some shortcuts in doing something) we are generally a level beyond that in our own status. Of course this doesn’t take into account that there is a breadth of material in any one area and we may level equally across the breadth or we may focus on a particular area and level that area beyond others. In some ways, it’s like leveling a character in a game, just not so well laid out and defined.
Well, I hope this made sense, and more importantly helped some. If it all seemed obvious to some of us out there, just remember it’s not to everyone