According to a model I’ve been playing around with, there are four types of learning. To explain the model better let’s view our brain as a collection of boxes which can contain information in form of marbles. How you see and perceive the world depends on the boxes in your brain and the links between them. The simplest form of learning is

  1. New fact: If I say that the Apple share is $188.59 it’s very easy to grasp. You already have a ready made box in your brain and you only have to change the marble inside it.

  2. Differentiation. If I say that there are three types of clouds, the first one looking as wads of cotton portending nice weather, the second looking like veil portending bad weather and the third like feathers which does not reveal how the weather is going to be, then you have differentiated your concept of clouds to three different types of clouds. In other words you have split one of your boxes in your brain into three boxes.

  3. Principle. When I was moving, my brother had to carry my furniture from the third floor to the ground level. He was complaining of the heavy work, but I told him that according to the law of physics he was not doing any work :wink: . Another example is if you ask a child what will happen to an apple which he throws up in the air when he is on a moving train. He will probably give you a wrong answer. You would have to explain to him that a moving train (which is not accelerating) is the same as if he was standing still according to the Newton’s principle. He would still be suspicious until you actually took him on a train and he could make his own experiment. In our model “Principle” is a kind of meta box which can generate all kind of new boxes and destroy old ones.

  4. Paradigm shift. This is the hardest type of learning. It involves reorganizing part of your brain completely. Throwing away old boxes and the links between them and creating new ones with a totally different order. When Copernicus said that the Earth was round and that it was orbiting the sun, it was a paradigm shift. When Einstein said that you can’t go faster then light it was also a paradigm shift (many science fiction writers still hold on to the old paradigm). If I tell you now then time does not exist and that it’s only an illusion and that I can back up my claim with scientific evidence, you might not believe me, because you would have to make a radical reordering of the boxes in your brain. It would probably take 25 years before a new generation came along and could accept my ideas. :wink:

When you are learning a subject or teaching, you should take more time for “principle” and “paradigm shift” then for “fact” and “differentiation”. Many bad teachers and lecturers give equal time to all 4 types. But the good ones know the difference and act accordingly.

Another that I find interesting is more on a physical note.

If you are an athlete and you practice for hours at a time (example hitting a hockey puck over and over, hitting a golf ball, kicking a soccer ball, jumping hurdles) and then after you are done with your “practice”

(This next step is very important)
You then go home and go to bed. The sooner you get to sleep the better your brain works at “remembering” and retaining muscle memory.

The next day your coordination is better and your body and muscles adapt and the moves become second nature.

Studies have also shown that after you “learn” something whether it is a physical movement or anything mental (like learning a new math equation) that the sooner you go to sleep and get a good nights sleep the better your brain retains that information.

In other words study hard THEN get a good nights sleep and your chances of actually retaining what you have LEARNED will be much higher.

Just thought that was interesting.