Learn Letter: Double Loop Learning, The Feynman Technqiue, Become a More Productive Learner

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21st edition l Artwork by Dids

Hi learners,

have you ever wondered why clever individuals strive towards a goal without ever questioning the goal itself?

So many people climb up the ladder only to realize it’s been leaning against the wrong wall.

As most education systems teach obedience, we rarely learn how to think for ourselves. It’s hard to become a critical thinker when grades reward conformists.

Adam Grant writes: “If you spend all of your school years being fed information and are never given the opportunity to question it, you won’t develop the tools for rethinking that you need in life.”

A few years ago, I became obsessed with starting at a tier-one consulting firm.

I studied to ace my exams, spent weeks practicing case studies, and admired consultants from afar. When I finally sat in the interview, there was just one problem: I realized I’d never want to work there.

The problem was I was caught in single loop learning. I never questioned my underlying mental model and blindly assumed “Tier-one consultancy firms are the best place to start your career.”

Double loop learning is the antidote to this trap. With double-loop learning, you alter mental models based on your actions. You question the status quo and reflect critically on the underlying assumptions.

Thinking in double-loops might lead to an alteration of mental models and decision-making rules. The process can feel uncomfortable as it forces you to challenge your principles.

There are three ways you can use doube-loop learning for better thinking:

  1. Reason through logic. Seek whether arguments are supported by evidence: Do arguments build on each other to produce a sound conclusion? Dare to think for yourself.
  2. Think in first principles. Question any assumption. Challenge your thinking with questions such as: How do I know that? What made me think this is true in the first place?
  3. Take time to reflect. When you enter the meta-perspective, you’ll gain valuable insights and perspectives.

Whatever you strive towards, keep Oscar Wilde's words in mind: “Most people are other people.Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Sapere Aude! — Have the courage to question your learning goals and think for yourself. Happy learning :-)

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Learning Nuggets

🧠 Become a More Productive Learner

This article from Harvard Business Review offers excellent suggestions to improve your learning. There are four things Matt Plummer and Jo Wilson suggest:

  1. Focus the majority of your information consumption on a single topic for several months. Instead of spreading your attention over a variety of topics, do a deep dive.
  2. Put what you’re learning into frameworks. Organizing what you’ve learned into a structure will help you understand it more deeply.
  3. Regularly synthesize what you have learned. When you finish reading something, for example, ask yourself, “What are the key takeaways here?”
  4. Cycle between information feasting and information fasting. It’s important that you have seasons when you limit your consumption of information, so you can review, consider, and apply what you’ve already consumed.

You can read the full article here.


📚 How can you learn a language in record time?

Scott Young, author of Ultralearning (no affiliate, buy in your favorite bookstore), wrote a blog post about his learning strategies.He doesn't recommend DuoLingo. Instead, he suggests a self-invented four step process to get fro zero, to basics, early conversations, and real life conversations really fast.

Scott Young also completed the MIT undergraduate computer science curriculum at 4x speed. Instead of the typical four years, he passed all final exams in less than 12 months I wrote a critical article about this here.


“Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.

- Aristotle



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