How To Learn New Skills At Any Age

By Gourav Ghosh, Film-maker & Teacher

This Coronavirus pandemic is going to bring profound and long-lasting changes in our human society. There are obvious trends and uncertainty both, at the same time. Uncertainty about the tourism sector, film industry, etc, and obvious trends of online gaming, more sanitizer products, and so on.

One obvious trend, which will be an emotional toll for many, is adapting to a new environment of work culture. Workers have to change their line of work and adopt new skills. In this column, I will attempt to elaborate on how to learn new skills effectively at any age.

Whatever new skill you’re trying to impart, first try to understand that your brain needs to codify that skill in itself. You have to understand and make use of your brain to learn new skills. The brain is the most complex device in the universe. It works even during the sleep, removing toxins and adjusting neuron sizes. That means you are not the same person after a night’s sleep, even after a nap. It’s as if you went to bed with one brain and woke up with an upgrade.

There are two types or two modes of thinking – focused mode & diffuses mode. You’re in either focused mode or diffused mode. You can’t be at both modes at the same time. It is like a coin. We can see either one side, or the other side of the coin. Focused mode is when we are in our immediate environment, solving problems. The diffused mode is activated when you’re relaxed and letting the concepts seep into your brain. Following are the techniques & methods to train your brain to learn any new skill –

1. CHUNKING : Chunking is the mental leap that helps you unite bits of information together through meaning. It’s like converting a cumbersome file to a zip file. Forming chunks in your brain is very important to gain expertise in any field. The first step of chunking is simply to focus your undivided attention on the information, you want to chunk. The second step in chunking is to understand the basic idea you’re trying to chunk. The third step to chunking is gaining context, so you can see not just how but also when to use this chunk. Learn the major concepts or points first, then fill in details

2. POMODORO TECHNIQUE : Developed by an Italian scientist, in this technique you do 25 mins of work with focused attention, without any interruptions, and give yourself a reward after this time. This technique enhances neuromodulators like Acetylcholine and Dopamine in our brain.

3. SLEEP : Sleep is an important part of the memory and learning process. During sleep, the brain rehearsed whatever you’re trying to learn. Always study before you go to sleep. Dreaming about what you’re studying can substantially enhance your ability to understand.

4. TEST YOURSELF: Recalling is a better way of learning than revision. The retrieval process itself enhances deep learning and helps us to begin forming chunks. Taking one hour of a test is better than one hour of study. It helps to concentrate our minds.

5. SPACED REPETITION : It takes time & practice to move information from working memory to long term memory. Spaced repetition means studying the material over a period of time throughout the week, rather than mugging up everything at once.

As with muscles, for neural structure (brain mechanism) you need to do work every day, gradually allowing your self to master the skill in your neural structure.

February 23, 2021
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