Effective Learning and Achievement

Popular wisdom over the past generation has told us that active use of our brains will prevent mental decay. This is increasingly important as we age. People who are constantly learning suffer fewer memory and cognitive problems later in life. They also feel a little more ‘alive’ and aware.

Of course we can put effort into learning and achieve little, or achieve less than other people who seem to put the same effort. So why the discrepancy? Probably it is the type of effort as much as the amount.

Some tricks:

  • Visualize the outcome. What are your objectives in learning this skill/information? What are the possibilities?
  • Think of written resources (textbooks, articles, online research …etc.) as a starting point. We have all heard criticism of people who just have book knowledge. But these people do better than those who have no knowledge at all. Of course it is experience and participation that really teach us, but the person with book knowledge will benefit far more from any experience and participation than a complete novice, and learn quite quickly. It is book knowledge combined with personal experience that really makes for skilled individuals.
  • Work with others. Bounce ideas off other minds. Consider different perspectives. Don’t just rely on your own mindset and ideas, there will always be a few things that you missed and that others picked up on.
  • Learning approaches make a difference. Some individuals learn a lot from spoken lectures. Some learn a lot from reading. Some from visualization or by building a working model. Sometimes an individual learns different topics in a different manner, or learns a topic by combining approaches.
  • Remember that failure is acceptable when learning but not when implementing. There is a lot of trial and error involved when discovering and experimenting. See the humour and humility in this, and embrace the creativity. But when somebody pays you to do a job you need to produce the successful results of all your efforts, not more trial and error. We learn now so we know how to get do things well latter on.
  • Accountability and time limits help motivation. We tend to prioritise what is urgent rather than what is important. Accountability and impending deadlines can make the important things a slightly urgent priority. The feedback from this is useful and the successes makes it worthwhile.


Escape Room Game Sydney

Escape room situations are beneficial at many levels. They involve cooperative teamwork, active participation, the linking of information and experience, and an impending deadline. At the same time is it an enjoyable experience, with nothing too important involved should things go awry. Social games like this are about being active and alive.


Pieces and Patterns

A complaint sometimes made about people in the millennial generation is that they think in disconnected moments. Their minds are used to making short comments on Twitter; they live by disconnected experiences. The complaint is that they do not connect these experiences together to for an understanding or see an overall pattern. This may mean a poor understanding of themselves and others. Life’s an interesting set of jigsaw pieces that stay unassembled in the box.

Perhaps this is a misconception. Perhaps older generations always believe the new generations aren’t getting it right. Perhaps the next generation is only different, not mistaken. Or maybe it’s just immaturity, with the older generation forgetting how they went through the same type of experiences at that age.

But a kernel of truth in this is the concept of a mind that is more concerned with isolated experiences and moments, maybe facts, rather than connections. This type of mentality has always existed. In fact, it must be the starting point for any newborn infant mind. But if a brain is to develop it must start connecting its experiences together. This is needed if we are to be self-aware, or aware of the world around us.

Escape room Sydney

In contrast to the accusation that the millennial mind is focuses on disconnected experiences is the mentality behind digital technology. Digital technology, whether it is coding or interfacing devices, is all about things being interconnected. Computer code is highly structured, not just a random group of terms. Physical devices and social media connect at multiple levels. What can be a problem is that the users are mostly oblivious to this. The structure is provided for them without their needing to understand it.

Computer games can be an exception to this. Some games are just mindless entertainment where you shoot space invaders. But more advanced games require users to put things together. And puzzles or detective games require thinking and pattern formation.

Escape rooms combine physical experiences with a mental demand for putting those experiences into some sort of order. This is how new neural pathways are formed. And it is something different to the learning obtained from reading, which is also high beneficial in its own way.

Escape room game Sydney

Escape rooms are social, teaching team work with friends; they teach resourcefulness, because we can’t just look for h answer on Google; they are physically engaging, not just being words on a page; and they teach us the interconnectedness of our experiences.

Escape rooms may be a fantasy scenario, but they teach us practical thinking skills and the joy of being physical involved with what we do.