Learning is Iterative
1 min read

Learning is Iterative

Learning is oscillating between finding rules and breaking rules.  Every time you find a rule you need to play around with it until you find where it doesn't work.  Every time you break a rule, you need to codify a new rule or analogy for that particular context.  It's not necessary to formally use trial and error.  When you learn something you need to apply that knowledge.  By using and doing, you will find the situations and context where it does not work.  If you talk to someone about this new situation, you will need to boil it down into a simple explanation, a new rule.  This cycle will repeat.

So what does this mean for you?  Copying something down and memorizing it is not learning.  Taking someone's authority is not learning.  You can't learn without questioning.  To learn, you also need to internalize what you experience and express it.  Learning can never be completed. There will always be edge cases to explore.  It’s important to consider whether your environment is conducive to learning.

You can see this iterative process in the Feynman technique of learning, where a crucial component is to teach someone the topic you’re learning.  This accelerates the iterative process.  The student's questions force you to think about edge cases and forces you to create new rules.

Knowing this cycle will make it easier to learn anything.  Right now, are you following a rule or breaking a rule?  If you're following a rule, keep your eye out for when it doesn't work.  If you're breaking a rule, figure out why the rule isn’t working and find a rule to guide you through this situation.