Learning How to Learn

The most effective, cutting-edge learning techniques that you can apply to your daily life. Learn more →

Epic ponderer stood on a mountaintop deliverating over the finer points of the modern educational system, while also wondering where that giant blue square came from.

The main problem with education

Whether it's at school or university, the one thing no one ever teaches you is how to teach yourself. We often just end up drilling specific exercises and mindlessly memorizing information so that when exam time comes around, we pass the test. But once the test is over, that information has outlived its usefulness, and there's no guarantee that information will be retained. In the end, we're really just learning how to pass our tests.

Here's the real question: does this approach of repetition and memorization help us truly understand the subject material? The academic consensus nowadays is that it doesn't. In fact, what's more important than any individual topic is knowing how to study, but for some reason, this point is often overlooked. So, what can we do to remedy this?

Well, there are various techniques and exercises that can be applied to the educational process to help make it more efficient and engaging. Keep scrolling to uncover some of the secrets of effective learning.

Learning Techniques

Five Strategies from Barbara Oakley

  • Book titled 101 Essays that will change the way you think

    Two Ways of Thinking

    Deep understanding comes from being able to toggle back and forth between focused and diffused thinking.

  • Sculpture of boy smoking a joint


    Improving your ability to remember key bits of information helps to connect different parts of the brain.

  • Random picture of a bridge or boat or something


    When you learn multiple skills at the same time, they reinforce each other.

  • Some dude standing in an empty room


    When listening to your teacher, think up a good question, something that you're really itching to know.

  • A hand holding up several books

    Illusion of Competence

    Test yourself, write it down, tell other people, and repeat the process in different settings. Only then can you be truly certain you've understood something

TED talks

For lovers of procrastination

Barbara Oakley's story

Math didn't come naturally to Barbara in childhood. She thought of herself as more of a humanities person, and not a brilliant one at that. With an eye to becoming a linguist, after school she enlisted in the army, who sent her to learn Russian. After several years of service, during which she rose to the rank of Captain, Barbara left the army and decided to study engineering. It was during this time that she developed her learning methodology as she was forced to reprogram her brain for a different kind of learning. It turns out that when something doesn't come naturally to you, having to work hard to gain the knowledge that other people may get at first glance gives you a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

The Feynman Technique

Learn without forgetting

More → A picture of Richard Feynman, a world-renowned quantum physicist. The Feynman
          Technique is derived from his studying methods when he was a
          student at Princeton.

Facts and figures

On learning and the brain

  • 86 billion

    The number of neurons in the human brain

  • 73%

    The percentage of adults in the US who consider themselves lifelong learners

    Pew Research Centere

  • 1,000 terabytes

    The information storage capacity of a human

  • 500 trillion

    The number of nerve synapses responsible for learning in the average adult human

  • 420 million

    The number of adults under 25 with insufficient education for finding employment

    World Bank, 2017

  • 26 years old

    The age at which Albert Einstein published his groundbreaking paper on special relativity

  • 1885

    Development of the forgetting curve

  • 1897

    Publication of Ivan Pavlov's research on classical conditioning

Salman Khan

The One World Schoolhouse

Sal Khan's passion and innovation is transforming learning for millions of students worldwide. The One World Schoolhouse is a must-read for all who are committed to improving education so students everywhere can gain the skills and knowledge to be successful in school, careers and life.

George Lucas


Ten principles of rapid skill acquisition

by Josh Kaufman

  • 1

    Choose a lovable project

  • 2

    Focus your energy on one skill at a time

  • 3

    Define your target performance level

  • 4

    Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills

  • 5

    Obtain critical tools

  • 6

    Eliminate barriers to practice

  • 7

    Make dedicated time for practice

  • 8

    Create fast feedback loops

  • 9

    Practice by the clock in short bursts

  • 10

    Emphasize quantity and speed

Useful resources

Further materials on learning techniques and hacks.