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Help me learn things H/A!

GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
edited January 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So long story short, I got a job where (most of the time) I sit in a cozy litle booth and manage a parking garage gate.

As you can guess, there is a lot of downtime for me to do whatever (so long a it doesn't involve a computer). Lately I've been really taking advantage of this by working on a lot o personal things, whether it be artwork, learning programming, music, etc. But many days I feel as if I could have learned a lot more material if I had simply better organized my time, or effectively knew how to study.

Now when I think of studying (as do many), I picture cramming as much info for a test as possible, followed by a blurb of information on a graded page before having all that stored info drain right out. Since I'm not getting graded on this and actually want to retain/utilize this knowledge, I don't think that cramming tactics will work here.

I don't really feel like I know how to study or even "learn" in a sense outside of parroting information like we're trained in school. I could use some help here, because I feel like I have a golden opportunity available and I'd hate to waste it!

So H/A, what advice can you give when it comes to learning new material, as well as staying motivated throughout?

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Posts

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    All I know is practice helps solidify knowledge. I need to practice the things I learn for it to really take.

    Unfortunately not having a computer really limits you there for a lot of things. If you're picking up a language see if you can't find people online for you to talk to. I'm sure there are webpages that help with that. Math and such? Get workbooks and work through them. English? Write things!

    The sky's the limit there, but I think the key to most knowledge is practice.

  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    I do have my iPhone, so at least that's something!

    0WBv0.png
  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    Are you looking to learn things applicable for returning to school or for the job market? Or are you just looking to learn more about things in general?

    For the latter, then forget about cramming for tests or whatever and think back to before school, when you were a little kid and you just had fun learning things because you wanted to know them. Then find a book on said subject (or ask the forum for advice on a good book for a particular subject) and read the book.

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    on the iphone, there's a few great free Gutenberg apps that have a metric ton of tech manuals and textbooks you could start with.

    From there, check out used bookstores and university bookstores for old editions of class textbooks.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • seasleepyseasleepy Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    If you want the traditional framework, there are a ton of courses available online from universities and elsewhere (here's an aggregator of several of those, there are others though, including a bunch just in iTunes). You can use them in any sort of fashion, from going through and pretending you're in the course (listening to the lectures every week, reading the suggested texts in the interim, taking tests/doing problem sets), raiding the reading list for reputable texts, just listening to the lectures, etc. I've been listening to these lectures myself recently.

    Outside of that framework though, the things I've found help retention most are a) being interested and b) practicing. If you're learning about literature or history or music or something like that, "practicing" means talking about it (or at least reading people talking about it). Having a discussion with real people is best (people on the internet count as real people for this), but if you can't find an active discussion, read some commentary you can find, write a post about what you've learned and post it to a blog or at the very least put it in a word doc. I don't care if the thing you've learned is "this Civil War general has an amazing moustache": that is a fine discovery to make and share with others.

    If you're finding yourself bored by something, push on for a bit. Then if you're still bored, ask "why is this not interesting?" If the answer is relating to the source rather than the subject (ie wrt the Civil War: "I don't care about the actual battles particularly but I'm interested in the social stuff surrounding this, and all this guy is doing is talking about where specific brigades are ugh"), find a new source. If you're actually bored by the subject, put it on a shelf, do some learning about the context of whatever it is, and then decide whether you want to go back to it (ie: "I have discovered that Vivaldi is boring as fuck and I don't get why anyone found him interesting." and then either this "Now I have learned about why people found him interesting, so I think maybe I'll actually get it this time around." or this "Now I have learned about why people found him interesting, and still I have no desire to go back and listen to any more of his boring-ass music." will happen -- if it's the latter, and it's one of those things you kind of feel like you really should try to get, you can always come back and try it again later).

    For history and literature stuff, I always find just browsing around the Project Gutenberg catalog to be really curiosity-inducing (ex 1 and ex 2 I just ran across).

    For programming, this got a lot of press recently (there's an associated website, I don't really know much about either). If there's a specific language you want to learn though, find a book to get you past "add two numbers, display result" and then start trying your hand at some Project Euler problems (Project Euler can also help you learn some math, but even if you don't know the "proper" way to calculate the answer, you can usually brute force it, and just check the forums to see what the proper way is after the fact if you're interested).

    seasleepy on
    It was amusing to have Massachusetts as part of our country, but now, of course, like so much of the coastal nation, it no longer qualifies as America.
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Registered User regular
    Sleep is also important. You can't expect to remember and retain much in the long-term without good sleep hygiene. Unfortunately, the motivation to learn will have to come from you. Tie the information that you learn to emotional connections, to help integrate it into your brain... it's a lot easier to remember facts when you connect an emotion to them somehow.

    Steam ID: Hahnsoo, Steam Name currently: Hahnsopolis | PSN: Hahnsoo | Monster Hunter Tri: Hahnsoo, E8HJCA
  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    Sorry about the lack of reply, i've been swamped with work duties! To answer your questions, there are roughly three things i'd like to improve upon:

    1) Art/Animation

    2) Web Programming

    3) Guitar playing/Understanding music theory


    The first one has been the easiest and most productive for me so far; all I have to do is draw draw draw! The amount i've improved in such a short time is incredible for me. The other two things I could use some help on!

    I've read a good chunk about web programming, but now i've gotten to a point in my book where it's definitely more application-based, workbook approach to things. I have a feeling that things in programming aren't really going to "click" until I really get my hands dirty on this, but outside of this book I have no idea how to practice programming at all, and i'm such a beginner that even the most basic things confuse and frustrate me :?

    As for learning guitar/music theory, what is the best approach to this? I don't think i'll be able to bring a guitar set with me at work a good 90% of the time while i'm there, but i'd still like to learn/get absorbed in it as much as I can! What can I do to learn or improve my knowledge of guitar/keep me motivated when i'm not able to tote equipment with me?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    0WBv0.png
  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Best advice I got for studying was to not study something for more than an hour. Basically at that point, you start to fight to pay attention/retain what you are studying. So, instead it is ideal to have a few things to study: Do an hour of A, hour of B, hour of C, hour of A.... And so on.
    I got this advice from a first year psych. prof., and it has actually helped me significantly for tests.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Ashaman42Ashaman42 Registered User regular
    Are you not allowed a compluter or do you not have one there? Would a little netbook or something work for some offline web programming?

  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    Comahawk wrote:
    Best advice I got for studying was to not study something for more than an hour. Basically at that point, you start to fight to pay attention/retain what you are studying. So, instead it is ideal to have a few things to study: Do an hour of A, hour of B, hour of C, hour of A.... And so on.
    I got this advice from a first year psych. prof., and it has actually helped me significantly for tests.

    I've tried this a few times and it really works! I guess the only issue I have with it is that sometimes you can get so absorbed in an activity that you don't want to move on haha.

    On another note, yeah I'm not really allowed to bring a computer, sorry; only on the weekends really. But even when I do manage to bring it, I don't know how to practice programming! All I have are books that explain the concepts (with a heavy hand I might add), but have little exercises to do. I guess I need a workbook or something huh?

    0WBv0.png
  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    Hey so I hate bumping my own thread, but I thought i'd give it one last shot before watching it fall into the depths of H/A forever haha


    If anyone can give me some advice, i'd be more than glad to hear it!

    0WBv0.png
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Spending too much money eating out. That's about it. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    Have you considered learning another language? I'd really like to learn spanish, for an example.

    Steam- SteveBartz Xbox Live- SteveBartz PSN Name- SteveBartz
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    Honestly there's almost nothing in life that you can do on your own in terms of learning that will outmatch reading good books. I've grown much more as a human being by reading literature than I have doing almost anything else. Work your way through these (but... don't start with Ulysses or Portrait of the Artist...). Learning to pull quarters out of someone's ass is great too so you could go with Esh's suggestion.

    * The full list can be found here and for the love of god use the list on the left.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • y2jake215y2jake215 The No Flex ZoneRegistered User regular
    Since you can't bring a guitar to work, you could try getting something like this
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/shredneck-practice-guitar-neck
    for practicing, especially while you're learning scales or other music theory.

    y7dKgGy.jpg
    maybe i'm streaming terrible dj right now if i am its here
  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    seasleepy wrote:
    If you want the traditional framework, there are a ton of courses available online from universities and elsewhere (here's an aggregator of several of those, there are others though, including a bunch just in iTunes). You can use them in any sort of fashion, from going through and pretending you're in the course (listening to the lectures every week, reading the suggested texts in the interim, taking tests/doing problem sets), raiding the reading list for reputable texts, just listening to the lectures, etc. I've been listening to these lectures myself recently.

    Outside of that framework though, the things I've found help retention most are a) being interested and b) practicing. If you're learning about literature or history or music or something like that, "practicing" means talking about it (or at least reading people talking about it). Having a discussion with real people is best (people on the internet count as real people for this), but if you can't find an active discussion, read some commentary you can find, write a post about what you've learned and post it to a blog or at the very least put it in a word doc. I don't care if the thing you've learned is "this Civil War general has an amazing moustache": that is a fine discovery to make and share with others.

    If you're finding yourself bored by something, push on for a bit. Then if you're still bored, ask "why is this not interesting?" If the answer is relating to the source rather than the subject (ie wrt the Civil War: "I don't care about the actual battles particularly but I'm interested in the social stuff surrounding this, and all this guy is doing is talking about where specific brigades are ugh"), find a new source. If you're actually bored by the subject, put it on a shelf, do some learning about the context of whatever it is, and then decide whether you want to go back to it (ie: "I have discovered that Vivaldi is boring as fuck and I don't get why anyone found him interesting." and then either this "Now I have learned about why people found him interesting, so I think maybe I'll actually get it this time around." or this "Now I have learned about why people found him interesting, and still I have no desire to go back and listen to any more of his boring-ass music." will happen -- if it's the latter, and it's one of those things you kind of feel like you really should try to get, you can always come back and try it again later).

    For history and literature stuff, I always find just browsing around the Project Gutenberg catalog to be really curiosity-inducing (ex 1 and ex 2 I just ran across).

    For programming, this got a lot of press recently (there's an associated website, I don't really know much about either). If there's a specific language you want to learn though, find a book to get you past "add two numbers, display result" and then start trying your hand at some Project Euler problems (Project Euler can also help you learn some math, but even if you don't know the "proper" way to calculate the answer, you can usually brute force it, and just check the forums to see what the proper way is after the fact if you're interested).

    I think this is the best advice ive been given overall. Thanks dude!

    0WBv0.png
  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    Godfather wrote:
    Comahawk wrote:
    Best advice I got for studying was to not study something for more than an hour. Basically at that point, you start to fight to pay attention/retain what you are studying. So, instead it is ideal to have a few things to study: Do an hour of A, hour of B, hour of C, hour of A.... And so on.
    I got this advice from a first year psych. prof., and it has actually helped me significantly for tests.

    I've tried this a few times and it really works! I guess the only issue I have with it is that sometimes you can get so absorbed in an activity that you don't want to move on haha.

    On another note, yeah I'm not really allowed to bring a computer, sorry; only on the weekends really. But even when I do manage to bring it, I don't know how to practice programming! All I have are books that explain the concepts (with a heavy hand I might add), but have little exercises to do. I guess I need a workbook or something huh?

    There's another reason this is important in my opinion: the most important thing to really making progress is regular consistent practice of whatever it is you're learning. If you blitz a subject for four hours one day, it's much easier to feel like it's OK to skip it the next day, and more likely you'll tire of it faster. I think 1 hour every day for a week will likely make more headway on a subject than four hours two days in a row and then zero hours for the rest of the week.

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