How I Learn
Or, “A study of my study.”
In this blog post, I will attempt to share some of my current thoughts and related ideas on “my research methods”.
I am interested in learning about many, diverse topics and am mostly self-taught. The topics that interest me are too numerous to name. But, here are a few thoughts regarding what I do, where I go, and how I learn about a topic:
Experience - Everything I learn begins with, and is based on, an experience (some contact with and/or observation of facts or events). Then, depending on my level of interest in the topic, I sometimes want to learn more.
Definitions - I often start by looking up and comparing the definitions of words related to the topic in various dictionaries and other sources.
Definition Dissection - Sometimes, I will recursively look up the definition of each word in a definition, then look up the definitions of each word in those definitions, and so on.
Etymology - Sometimes, I look up the root, history, origin, and evolution of words or phrases related to the topic.
Synonyms and antonyms - I also sometimes try to find words with the same, similar, or different meaning of words related to the topic.
Related and unrelated topics - I sometimes try to think of and research other, similar topics, as well. Occasionally, I also try to think of and research seemingly dissimilar topics that might actually be connected in some interesting and meaningful way.
Versus - I often use the Google “vs” search operator to help me find synonyms, antonyms, and related and unrelated topics to think about and research.
Metaphors and analogies - I usually try to find, create, and/or develop meaningful metaphors and analogies related to the topic.
Quotes - I will occasionally look up quotes that are related to the topic. Sometimes, I also research the proper origin and source of the quote.
Images - Sometimes, I perform image searches and look for visual representations of words or phrases related to the topic.
Echo Chambers and Sounding Boards - I try to identify, understand, and remain aware of my various bubbles and contexts, and then purposely seek views from inside and out.
Cognitive Biases - I try to remind myself and remain aware of any biases that might be affecting my thinking on the given topic.
Thinking - I sometimes simply “take a break”, process, ponder, and connect the various things I’ve learned from the various ways above.
Sources - I frequently skim, read, and refer to formal and informal, fiction and non-fiction, analog and digital papers, books, magazines, newspapers, articles, blogs, films, videos, social media, and forum discussions.
Roots - I also often go straight to the source of all information and engage people directly by presenting ideas, asking questions, requesting feedback, and listening carefully.
Above, I tried not to give any reasons “why” I do any of these things. Like the topics that interest me, there are too many reasons to mention. Perhaps I’ll list and explore the reasons in another blog post. However, at a high-level, I do any and all of these things to try and get a wider and deeper understanding of a topic that interests me.
And, I used many of these things to write this blog post.