4 Reasons Why You May Need to Accelerate Your Learning

PLoP Portland

Willem Larsen at PLoP '11, hunting German and Japanese! (CC Daniel Cukier)

I’ve just returned from the PLoP 2011 conference in Portland, OR, a conference all about sharing and communicating strategies of success across fields. I have some new understandings of how to approach the sharing of the principles of accelerated learning. I’m now thinking in terms of patterns. If you haven’t heard of the term, patterns are written in a particular format for sharing successful strategies; unlike the idea of “best practices”, where one might think that one successful tool can be used anywhere for anything, patterns are extremely contextual. There is an art to applying patterns.

ACCELERATED LEARNING is itself a pattern. So, what is the context for which it’s suited? Who needs to accelerate their learning?

If any of these are true:

  • You love innovation and learning for its own sake…
  • You have an urgent need to improve or learn under extremely constrained conditions, such as limited time and budget…
  • You have high standards for personal or professional reasons…
  • You need to perform in a “do or die” environment, i.e. the medical, military, aviation, or other field that compels high performance.

Then you may want to look at tools that will accelerate your learning and the learning of others.

Conventional educational methods are not designed for rapid, high quality results.

  • Institutions prioritize time-spent-in-seats for budgetary and societal reasons.
  • Institutions prioritize standardized results and consistent experiences in their populations.
  • Learning styles and backgrounds vary wildly among student and employee populations.
  • The most effective continual learners are self-directed, but it’s difficult to transfer responsibility for learning to individuals conditioned to wait for and satisfy instructor or supervisor direction.
Therefore, look outside of conventional methods to accelerate your learning. 
  • Investigate and imitate “positive outliers” – teachers and students in institutional environments who are performing higher than the rest of the population.
  • Investigate and imitate successful learning in unconventional environments and “do or die” fields; emergency medicine, military training, flight training, endangered language revitalization
  • Isolate and apply the fundamental principles common to these environments;
  • Focus on that which is ALIVE, prioritize FLUENCY over knowledge, boost SIGNAL STRENGTH in communication, NARROW SCOPE of the skill or information you want to transmit in any moment, DESIGN YOUR ENVIRONMENT to immerse the learners in the learning experience.
The craft of accelerating learning is a skill itself; there is a long learning curve. It’s somewhat like a mental martial-art. You START AT THE BEGINNING by using basic principles to design simple accelerated learning environments for small groups of people. As you increase in skill you are able to support larger and larger learning communities.

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