LEARNING

Skills come from struggle.

A study on students shows how students that struggle before receiving help from teachers outperform the ones who get helped right away. Growth comes at the point of resistance. Supporting too early restrains learning. Help needs to come at the point of failure.

Deep learning comes from a high level of challenge – Failures are milestones reached in the journey of learning. True learning requires something called “System 2” to be activated. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman Ph.D. says that we have 2 types of systems: System 1 operates automatically and quickly; it is often driven by instinct and intuition. System 2 is more thoughtful and analytical, and it requires activities that use our full mental capacity.

System 1 is our default system of thinking because it requires less energy. When we are in autopilot, System 1 is at work and our current mental models of the world dominate. Only when we activate System 2, working hard and struggling to figure something out do we have the best chances of examining new information critically and integrate it into our web of knowledge. True learning requires System 2

Our web of knowledge consists of brain cells called neurons that are linked by atoms which function like electrical wires in the brain. When we learn something new, electrical activity travels between neurons along axons. At first the connections are weak – we struggle with the new skill whether it is properly using grammar, a new shot in our favourite sport or using our non-dominant hand. If we give in, System 1 takes over and we get back to the already strong connections within our brain. But if we keep going and train new skills, the connection between neurons, strengthens.