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.
- 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 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.