EMAIL #111 - 8TH MARCH 2021 - "EVERY HUMAN'S SUPERPOWER"
Todays email is number 111; quite an auspicious number and it's about a topic I am personally very invested in.
As an ex secondary school teacher and a parent of three resourceful young adults, I am very interested in the mechanics of learning. Tom Vanderbilt, the author of a book "Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning" described our endless ability to learn new things as "every humans superpower". In his book he explores the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, which is the ability for the human brain to rewire itself in response to a new challenge. The adaptation of the brain to ever changing stimulus is in essence the physiology of learning and has been the focus of numerous scientists and academics life's work.
"If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." Barbera Sher
It is widely accepted that our ability to learn peaks in early adulthood but starts to diminish significantly in middle age and beyond. However, numerous studies have proven that people well past middle age (i.e., in their 70's, 80's, & 90's) can absolutely learn new skills and expand their knowledge. So, every human at any age has the superpower of neuroplasticity and we can all greatly benefit form learning throughout all stages of life.
One of DDB's core values is "constant improvement in everything we do" so learning new skills and building methods is at the heart of our work culture. I have always been a huge believer in "learning on the job" and our two current carpentry apprentices, Mark and James are an excellent example of how well the apprenticeship training system can work in the construction industry. I believe that apprenticeships and learning on the job is such a powerful method of learning because it encompasses almost all the "Principles of good learning" as outlined by Tom Vanderbilt as follows.
- Deliberate practice, which consists of a consistent routine and repetition.
- Learning from your mistakes, being focused and analytical and thinking about what you did right and what you did wrong.
- Varied practice, by constantly changing the types of work and the working conditions an apprentice’s brain is constantly adapting and rewiring itself and making the most of our human superpower.
- Muscle memory, once you have performed a specific set of movements dozens of times your muscles never forget these movements, like riding a bike of using a hammer.
- Learning by teaching others, the best way to improve a skill is to teach it to someone else. It is often overlooked that both the tradesman and the apprentice benefit from learning on the job.
- Complacency is the enemy of learning, all learning involves failure and setbacks, but not giving in to these frustrations is the most important part of learning something new.
"I have not failed; I've just found 1000 ways that didn't work." Thomas Edison
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and learn something new.