Rules of Accelerated Learning, #13: Nested Complexity

sea turtle image nested complexity accelerated learning

Observe a master navigator at work, partway through a voyage. (image CC cloning girl)

This is part of an ongoing series on the fundamental rules or “patterns” of accelerated learning. Each rule is very contextual; these are not silver bullets or cure-alls.


When you are progressing through successive stages of proficiency in a target skill…

There are many models of learning out there, but they are often too general, abstract, speculative, or based on knowledge-about rather than FLUENCY.

  • It’s common when learning something new to have to go back to the beginning, and relearn things all over again, in the light of a new understanding you’ve gained. By avoiding this in the first place you can save tremendous amounts of time.
  • To really learn or teach how to do something, you must start at the most basic level of performance and rise through ever-increasing levels of complexity, becoming fluent at every step along the way.
  • Delaying fluency until you’ve had an overview of an entire skillset only means you have to start all over again to actually learn it, this time doing it for real.
  • “Maturity”-type models of learning (such as the Dreyfus Model) don’t actually tell you what to do at any particular point in your learning.
  • There are fewer ways to learn something quickly than there are ways to learn something slowly.
  • Finding a narrow path through a skillset, that you can then share with other learners/teachers, allows you to collaborate on making it even faster and more effective.
Therefore, observe your target skill at all the levels of proficiency, and map out the fastest route to fluency accordingly.
  • Rough out 4-5 main levels of proficiency, and tag them to fingers on your hand according to GESTURE.
  • When you reach a “fork in the road” along the way through the rising levels of proficiency, and both paths are equally effective, choose just one to collaborate on.
  • If there is no one who has organically learned the target skill, you’ll need to establish the levels of proficiency much later by first FLUENCY HUNTING your way through it on your own. By looking behind you, you’ll then see the path that you’ve left, and can share it with others.
  • Be aware of the overall path to mastery, but don’t engage in discussion or speculation about higher levels; focus in on the one you’re working on right now.
New teachers and learners experiencing accelerated learning often want to “jump” levels due to curiosity or impatience, to get more of an overview or exposure to the skill. This is of course the slippery slope back to knowledge-about rather than fluent mastery; call the rules of play and keep on hunting!

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