Learning how to learn: Mental models
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Learning how to learn: Mental models

A practical philosophy for learning, problem solving and creating change

About the Book

Learning is perhaps one of the key points of existence. We learn so that we can have new or different experiences. Being able to learn means we can do new things or do old things in novel ways. This ability underlies the ability to solve problems. It also underlies the ability to create meaningfully.

Mental models, or more simply models, are what we create when we learn. Whether we are learning something that is outside of ourselves, some system we have to run, build, sell, install, fix or upgrade or where it is something that directly involves ourselves, mental models are the result of that learning.

A key to effective learning, to understanding, is building these models from two points of view. So that learning is efficient and non-frustrating we can break what we are learning into clearly defined elements and focus on small groups of these in relative isolation.

A further element of learning is indexing the models that our brain builds so that we can call them up without having to think.

An additional key to learning is being able to check what we’ve learned, so that we can improve our models when necessary.

This books details a set of simple concepts, and includes principles (both first principles and basic principles) that can be easily adapted to make learning, problem solving, and creating easier.

These concepts and principles provide a framework for both thinking about how to do things and how to actually do them. 

Learn how to learn, and how to:

  • Build better mental models (and how to scale and modularize them)
  • Make learning efficient, effective and less frustrating
  • Improve problem solving abilities
  • Deal effectively with fear and frustration
  • Use limits to become less limited
  • Utilize mental models for better muscle control and body awareness
  • Improve our understanding and the way that we do things

It all starts with the notion that our brain builds models, mental models, and those models form the foundation of our understanding, intuition and habits. At the same time, we can choose how we construct and index those models thus improving our understanding and the way that we do things.

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About the Author

Neil Keleher
Neil Keleher

Hi, I'm Neil Keleher

I’ve been a yoga teacher for about 20 years.

I have a degree in systems design engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Prior to that I served for five years in the British army as an armourer.

As a yoga teacher I teach my students how to feel and control their body. In this context I’m like a driving instructor for your body.

One of my other hats is “indexing specialist”. One of my current ongoing projects under this hat is designing an easy to use indexing system for Chinese characters.

Neil Keleher

Episode 262

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Table of Contents

    • Mental models and learning
      • Learning allows us to improve our experiences
      • Mental models are the result of all that we learn
      • Learning to act effectively without thinking
      • Four categories of mental models
      • Two general cases
    • Automating effectiveness
      • An example of unthinking action
      • Freeing up attention
      • Habit
      • Micro habits
      • Reducing frustration
      • A repository of models
    • Iterative learning
      • Building versus using
      • How a search engine separates learning from doing
      • The importance of indexing
      • Doing simple math
      • Fixing problems with math
      • Fixing problems with indexing
      • Answering 100 questions quickly
      • Dancing with chaos
      • Indexing with varied references
      • Indexing and grouping
      • Noticing recall
    • Breaking things down
      • Learning to write Chinese characters.
      • Action Frameworks
      • Learning to ride a motorbike
      • Building the model first
      • Memorizing an initial model
      • Building a model or improving it
      • Sharpening the thinking mind
    • Sensing and not thinking
      • Sensing change externally or internally
      • Recognizing
      • Weight shifting
      • Sensitivity (and control) is transferable
      • Doing math and Tai Ji without thinking
      • A note on speed
      • Maximizing sensitivity
      • The dangers of thinking
      • Overcoming fear
      • Directing our senses
      • Sensing instead of thinking
    • Hunting for speed
      • Outer and inner environments
      • Sensory horizons
      • Maximizing the sensory horizon
      • Directing our senses externally
      • Change doesn’t stop
      • Configuring for responsiveness
      • Limiting learning for infinite expression
      • Tuning and adjusting
      • Creating sensation first
      • Sensitivity and responsiveness
      • Moving as one
      • Sense-response modules
    • Two mind-states
      • A rough equivalent
      • Mutual exclusivity
      • Cycling between mind-states
      • Short term memory
      • Learning to write Chinese characters
      • Listening in chunks
      • Assembling a model in mid-term memory
      • Five Items or Less
      • Being specific
      • Making choices
      • Noticing relationships
      • Aiding effective indexing
      • Using references to previously learned models
      • External memory
      • Reducing redundancy
      • Stepping back
    • Practice
      • Defining Practice
      • Improving sensitivity and control
      • Practicing mind-state control
      • Practicing thinking
      • Using limits to approach limitlessness
    • Two points of view
      • Defining a system
      • Components
      • Signals
      • The component view and signal view
      • An example of effective model building
      • Defining and Redefining Systems (and Models)
      • Becoming a better reader
      • Looking back on the experience
      • The components as landmarks
      • Identity and Recognition
      • Detecting hinderances to the flow of change
      • Checking our solution
    • Recognition and understanding
      • Defining movements
      • Providing context
      • Memory techniques
      • Flexible labelling
      • Two points of view, time and space
      • Stepping in and out of the flows of time
      • Laplace transforms
      • A Feynman-like view of understanding
      • What understanding is made of
      • The complex number plane
    • Sudden knowings
      • Intuition as the output of our models
      • Inner space
    • Prototyping
      • The reverse of building a mental model
      • To create a desired change we need a foundation
      • Building from two points of view
    • Resting
    • Fracticality
      • Writing Chinese characters or understanding them
      • Riding a bike or fixing it
      • Learning to feel our body
      • A Dauntless approach to modeling systems
      • Dealing with overwhelm
      • Recognizing completion
    • Ideas
      • Defining an idea
      • Systems as ideas
      • Ideas as imaginary or real
      • Being like water
      • Thinking clearly
      • Relationships
      • Connection
      • Ideas and relationships are fracticality optional
      • Systems versus relationships
      • Basic principles
      • References
      • Room to sense change and room to create it
      • Connections create relationships
      • Creating change
      • Ideas, relationships and change
      • Augmenting first principles
    • Modelling our own body
      • How muscles act as force sensors
      • Learning our body
      • Focusing on the targeted area
      • Muscle model basics
      • Defining muscle stretch
      • Anchoring one end of a stretch
      • Options for muscle anchoring
      • Another way to think of flexibility
      • Creating room to move aka sufficient operating length
      • Connecting to our muscles
      • One way to create stability
      • Turning stability into direct-ability or control
    • Limits and limitlessness
      • Limits in the thinking mode
      • Limits in the fluid mode
      • Handling change
      • Creating
    • About Neil Keleher
    • More by Neil Keleher

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