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Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning

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Lifelong learning

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  1. Lifelong learning “Life, education, work, and play don’t have to be separate.”

  2. Do Now • Who am I? • What am I good at? • Why am I here?

  3. Don’t know? • It’s okay to not to know the answers. • It’s not okay to not look for the answers. • If I were back in high school and someone asked about my plans, I'd say that my first priority was to learn what the options were.-Paul Graham • Start reading everything.

  4. Choose one thing you are good at, and talk to a partner: • How did you get good at it? • Why is it important? • How do you know you’re good at it?

  5. What is learning?

  6. Why do we learn? • For fun • Following interests • To do things • Get a job • Talk to people from a different country • Find your unique path • Create meaning in the world • Become a better person

  7. What is learning? • Learning is play. • Learning is questioning, experimentation, and failure. • Constructive irreverence: challenging conventions in order to make progress. • Learning is finding yourself. • Learning is efficient acquisition of knowledge. • Learning is acquiring different points of view. • Learning is holding complexity in your head.

  8. How do you know you’ve learned something? • Degrees (?) • What have you done in the real world? • Competency and reputation

  9. Two kinds of learning • Broad (school) learning:building a foundation • Goal-oriented learning:find the tools for a specific project

  10. Four freedoms of learning • Freedom to experiment • Freedom to fail • Freedom to try on identities • Freedom of effort (to invest as much effort as one wants)

  11. School

  12. School • The purpose of school is to teach you to be a lifelong learner. • Agree or disagree? • Is it successful?

  13. Is school enough? • Why or why not?

  14. My biggest regret in college was… • Not realizing how much more I can learn outside rather than inside class. • Put your own frame around classes: • Why am I learning this? • Curiosity, goal, breadth • What can I get out of this class that no one else can?

  15. What is there outside of classes? • Hack-a-thons, robot competitions • Creative arts groups • Live-action role playing • Asking and answering questions no one has ever asked • Reading • Building a website • Writing a book • Starting a company • Traveling abroad • Talking to people • Inventing a device

  16. What is there outside of classes? This is scary because • no one will recognize your effort except yourself, and • you will fail more than you succeed. Just do it!

  17. Which is more impressive? “How to get into Stanford with B’s on your transcript”: • David — He is captain of the track team and took Japanese calligraphy lessons throughout high school;  he wrote his application essay on the challenge of leading the track team to the division championship meet. • Steve — He does marketing for a sustainability-focused NGO; he wrote his application essay about lobbying delegates at the UN climate change conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Who impresses you more? 

  18. “The psychology of impressiveness” • Steve — He does marketing for a sustainability-focused NGO; he wrote his application essay about lobbying delegates at the UN climate change conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. • How did he do it? •

  19. Why go to college? • MIT Tuition: $42,050/year • • “Degree inflation” • Why go to college? • To get a degree • Environment, not material • Learn different points of view • Learn from peers and professors • Work together on research, projects, etc.

  20. Putting a frame around school • If I had to go through high school again, I'd treat it like a day job. I don't mean that I'd slack in school. Working at something as a day job doesn't mean doing it badly. It means not being defined by it. I mean I wouldn't think of myself as a high school student, just as a musician with a day job as a waiter doesn't think of himself as a waiter. And when I wasn't working at my day job I'd start trying to do real work.When I ask people what they regret most about high school, they nearly all say the same thing: that they wasted so much time. If you're wondering what you're doing now that you'll regret most later, that's probably it.-Paul Graham

  21. Schools don’t teach creativity • TED talk:

  22. How to learn, I Classes

  23. Genius • People become geniuses not because of innate ability, but because they developed better ways to learn. • Marvin Minsky

  24. Holistic learning Rote Memorization • Organizes Ideas into Boxes • Keeps Subjects and Concepts Distinct • Few Neural Paths to the Same Idea • Views Concepts Through One Perspective • Aims to Learn Through Repetition Holistic Learning • Organized Ideas into Webs • Interrelates Subjects and Concepts • Many Neural Paths to the Same Idea • Views Concepts Through Many Unique Perspectives and Senses • Aims to Learn by Relating

  25. Constructs • Models

  26. Holistic learning, Scott Young 1-year MIT challenge • Visceralization • summarize concepts and ideas with a specific image or feeling. • Metaphor • See the new concept through the vantage points where you already have understanding. • Explore • Go through your constructs, models and metaphors and finding errors. • “I wonder if…”

  27. Finding resources • Start reading a textbook on the subject.

  28. Finding resources Start reading a textbook on the subject. • Figure out why the subject is worth learning. • Get an overview of the subject (wikipedia, talking to people). 1+ hours • Collect resources (books, people, classes, media) and figure out which ones are most useful.

  29. 1. “Why is it interesting?” • Why is computer programming interesting? • “In middle school our teacher gave us word searches. I wrote a computer program to solve them. I have been in love with programming ever since.” • Computers mechanize tasks that would take a long time by hand!

  30. 1. “Why is it interesting?” • Why is math interesting? • Math is how far we can push human knowledge with absolute knowledge as foundation. • Math is about continually creating a new idea you didn't have before. You have some base thought, you formalize it, and you push it very far, farther than you could have if you didn't formalize it, until you have this basic novel concept that is really valuable. The dream is somehow, it will help us do science.

  31. 2. Get an overview • Read texts for a general audience. • Interest comes after, not before. • Wikipedia surfing. • Meditative vs. athletic understanding. • Can you hold an interesting conversation? • 1+ hours

  32. 3. Reading • Don’t read linearly. • 2+ viewpoints. • My friend on reading philosophy: “Most people have a hard time reading philosophy because they focus way too much on getting it right… What matters is that the material Gets You Thinking.”

  33. 3. Question EVERYTHING. • “Ask yourself dumb questions – and answer them!”-Terence Tao •

  34. 4. When have you understood something? • It’s easy to have an illusion of understanding. • Trefethen: “Where babies come from” • Do the problems. (Create your own.) • Understand the motivations. • After seeing an impressive result from Feynman, students should be asking, "How did he think of that?" rather than copying down his work into their notebooks!-Marvin Minsky

  35. 4. Articulating ideas • Example: For people who are good at learning math, math requires less memorization. • Derive all trig formulas from a few. • Thinking about math in non-math language.

  36. 4. Reflection • What worked? • What didn't work? • How can I improve?

  37. Interaction • The best student is the one who never asks questions. • The best student is the one who • keeps asking questions • speaks up • It’s better to be wrong than to be silent. • More interaction -> more learning. • Talk to people who are really smart and you want to learn from, and people in different fields. • Figure out how other people think!

  38. Finding people • Find someone to learn together with. • Mutual learning: “I’ll teach you and you’ll teach me.”

  39. Talking to people • World-famous researcher? Just do it!Hi, I’m _, I’m doing _, and I’d like your help with _. • Have specific questions.

  40. How to learn, II Self-directed learning

  41. Unschooling, or self-directed learning, differs from homeschooling in that the learner directs her own education. Students choose how, when, why, and what they pursue.

  42. First step • Give yourself time!

  43. What to learn? • Just pick a project that seems interesting: to master some chunk of material, or to make something, or to answer some question. Choose a project that will take less than a month, and make it something you have the means to finish. Do something hard enough to stretch you, but only just, especially at first… If one blows up in your face, start another.

  44. Self-directed learning • Create your own learning environment • Find people • Make common situations learning situations • Track your progress • Make it a game • Combine interests • Get out of your comfort zone! • Discipline vs. play • Have patience

  45. Finding yourself • Math, writing, and education • Transfer

  46. Commencement (Drew Houston) When I think about it, the happiest and most successful people I know don't just love what they do, they're obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. From now on, failure doesn't matter: you only have to be right once.

  47. 12 Steps • Always carry a book, pencil, and paper. • Teach others. • Keep a to-learn list. • Start something—a website, company, organization, movement. • Find and be a mentor. • Set your homepage to Wikipedia:random • Live abroad & learn a new language • Surround yourself by people who are smarter than you • Think, write, and publish your ideas • Always ask ‘Why?’ • Practice unlearning to challenge your views • Become an expert

  48. Bibliography • Lockhart’s Lament • Vi Hart’s videos • What you’ll wish you’d known, Paul Graham ( • Qiaochu Yuan’s response here: • • Carl Shan’s answer to “What should I major in?”: • The disadvantages of an elite education ( • Scott Young’s blog ( • Society of Mind, The Emotion Machine, Minsky • Uncollege ( • Terence Tao’s math advice ( • MIT admissions blog ( • TED Talks • Creativity, Ken Robinson ( • Science is for everyone (

  49. Homework • Come up with 5 goals for yourself. For example, • Learn X. • Be able to do Y. • Make a thing Z. • Choose one of those goals, and find resources that you would use to reach that goal. Come up with an attack plan!