Tagged With learning

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As parents, we’re told that we’re our kids’ first teachers. It’s true, but to me this conjures up the idea that we must stand over their shoulders with a red pen, telling them they exactly what to learn and how. To better support their natural inquisitiveness, it can help to instead think of yourself as a librarian.

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We’re all used to skimming past the boring parts of a reading assignment or a web article. But when researchers from RMIT University printed information in a weird, hard-to-read font, they found that people were more likely to remember what they read.

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For knowledge workers in the 21st century, efficiency and productivity are still integral to being seen as a “success”. We value writers who can produce 10 pieces of content each day, and we look to investing personalities for advice on what 10 trades to make to maximise our portfolios.

But what if we could reframe that perspective? What if instead of prioritising action and production, we emphasised learning, insight and quality?

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One of my biggest frustrations with reading in one of the few foreign languages I’ve dabbled in is how long it takes to look up all the words I don’t know (which, admittedly, is a lot of them). It’s disruptive, and I’m likely to quit before I get all the way through an article or chapter or page.

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Parenting, I am learning, is like being the belayer to a roped rock climber — you have to know when to hold on tight and when to give some slack. (No, I’m not a rock climber myself, but I once took an intro class using a Groupon.)

You want to make sure your kids are safe and not making bonehead decisions, but you can’t follow them around throughout their lives, whispering, “Eh, you sure about that move there, buddy?” For them to reach new heights, sometimes you have to let go.

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Before my daughter learned to speak she learned to sign, and the first sign she mastered was “more”. More meant more — as in, “Give me more milk before I scream-cry in 5-4-3-2-1...” — but for her, it also meant “again”. Sing that song again. Push the toy cash register button again. Make that funny sound with your armpit again, again, again.

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Whether you want to chat with the locals on your next holiday or stave off dementia later in life, being bilingual is unquestionably handy. If you're just getting started on learning a new language, knowing where to begin can be a daunting prospect.

Sure, you can just go immerse yourself by living in another country for a while, or use services such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. You can also set up your favourite devices, websites and services to help you get up to speed with a new language. Here's how.

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All musicians have a different approach to becoming their very best, but whatever your practice, it will inevitably include some version of running scales. There is a great deal of tedium in being good enough to keep up when inspiration strikes. Unfortunately, this has translated to many a miserable afternoon for pressured kids at the keyboard. But we're adults now. Let's practise smart, not hard.

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Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax still practices his instrument four hours a day - when you play Carnegie Hall, you don't just wing it. And sometimes, he admits, "it's kind of a slog," especially to practice a new piece: Something written specifically for him, or something he's never heard. "You get the music, and you try to learn it note by note." In an interview with Lifehacker, Ax recommends several ways to make practising an instrument more fun and productive.

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When those bullies from business school mocked you for getting a useless doctorate in medieval literature, they didn't see the world of history podcasts coming. Now it's cool as hell to sit in your closet and read out your doctoral thesis. It turns out that podcasts are a fantastic way for people to learn about history, at all scales and time periods, one lesson at a time.

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Almost a quarter of all the students that attend Yale University, one of America's most prestigious schools, enrol in the "Psychology and the Good Life" course, run by Laurie Santos. It is the most popular course at Yale, ever, and aims to teach students how to lead a happier, more fulfilling life.

Now, anyone can sign up and take the course for free.

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You may have taken the quiz as a child: What type of learner are you? You'd answer questions such as, "When you see the word cat, are you more likely to a) picture a cat in your head, b) say the word 'cat' to yourself, or c) imagine yourself physically petting a cat?" Once you made your selections, your so-called learning style would be revealed. Congrats! You're a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner!

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If you miss the feeling of structured learning and hitting clear milestones in your education, or just want to know what the heck blockchain is, UTS now has you covered.