Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I think learning is inherently social.

Part of the problem is the mindset that creates a false dichotomy between "learning" and "socializing." One consequence of this mindset is the idea or impression that "learning" involves locking oneself in a room, opening a book, and sticking with it until one learns the material.

An example in language acquisition: http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius...




Language acquisition is not a good example to use here. Our minds are primed with pre-built language circuitry and as children we pick up the specifics of our environmental language effortlessly.

The learning we do throughout our post-infancy lives bears no resemblance to language learning. It is done using that effortlessly-acquired language structure, but in itself it takes hard work and effort. Unlike language, it goes "against the grain" of our evolved instincts. It can indeed be catalysed through judicious social interaction - comparing results, swapping tips, etc. - but the core of adult learning is focused, isolated study. Social environments for learning are a supplement, useful in moderation, but usually destructive and much more likely to result in groupthink, lowest-common-denominator mediocrity, and poor efficiencies in failing to optimise for the wide range of needs and aptitudes distributed among individuals when used in excess.


For sure. Do you have any research I can read?

There's tons of ink spilled about child development and learning, but precious little about adult learning.

I help run Dev Bootcamp so knowing as much about this as I can is really important to me. :)


Sorry, I can see how reading my comment would give the impression that I speak from great authority, but I was mostly just voicing my own preferences and prejudices about learning. I took a look at the introductory video for your service and it seems like a very professional, carefully-structured course - I do think learning in groups can work well if there is a clear, thoughfully-conceived structure for interaction. And it must surely help that you select for motivated, intelligent people - motivation is the key to real learning at any stage in life, I'd say.

I have had some experience with attempts to get groups of people to create or work together in groups with little to no structure and it never works. But I have not had much experience with the sort of structured social learning you offer (I think architect schools do a lot of this sort of structured, group creation-cum-learning - might be worth checking out.)

I do think that locking yourself in a room with a book and focussing is important, at least to build the platform of understanding from which you can move to group interactions. That's certainly my preference for the things I teach myself, and I think it is crucial for building basic understanding and confidence with the ideas. Of course there are chokepoints, especially with something like coding where at some point you need to actually start creating, where measured, structured guidance must be immensely helpful. But I think you need a rhythm - independent learning, then taking the problems and confusions you've built up into a social setting, then independent work again - I think real, 100% focus on a problem is a solitary activity. But perhaps from your own experience with DBC you can offer me some counter-examples?


"I do think that locking yourself in a room with a book and focussing is important, at least to build the platform of understanding from which you can move to group interactions."

Studying learning is inherently difficult because it requires intelligent people to try and figure out how they got that way. The tendency is to extend personal learning styles upon the population!

In this case, I bet that you learn the best from sitting down and reading a book. I'd double down and suggest that you take incredible notes and that your favourite books are thick with notes and underlined passages.

If I'm correct, it means that you learn best from reading/writing. This is one of the most common learning styles. However, some people are auditory learners (they learn the best during lectures), others are visual learners (they learn best when graphics are used to explain the concepts), and still others are kinesthetic (they learn best from doing).

To complicate matters, these learning styles are far from perfect type theories. In practice, people employ different learning strategies in different situations.


Is there a particular aspect of adult learning that you're most interested in? It's a very large field, but one that I got rather obsessed with. If you have some specific areas of interest (or if you'd simply like a reading list), my email address is in my profile.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: