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Sunday, December 17, 2017

How to learn like a child and become a genius

The human mind grows throughout the lifetime of an adult.

Julie hovers over a puzzle that requires solving word problems in order to piece together a word collage that is beautiful. As a student at East Side Elementary in Middleton, California, she is used to playing games with language and numbers. Some of the games seem more like work, as they are challenging to complete.

What helps the most is that Julie is able to collaborate with her peers to work out the problems, and she has found that her friends know quite a bit. More importantly, she recognizes that she has much to contribute. Julie is competent and has a strong self-esteem.

In many ways, Julie sits in an ideal learning environment, and scientists along with educators have gained so much knowledge about how children learn that school projects have cognitive design behind them. The cognitive revolution, which began with Noam Chomsky in 1957, initiated a flood of discoveries about how the brain works and learns, and teachers are able to apply this knowledge in the classroom to benefit students like Julie. This understanding of the brain increases exponentially as we move forward.

Just last year, neuroscientists pinpointed individual thoughts in the brain, monitoring the precise neural firing of a thought as it lit up the brain. Discoveries like these have allowed vegetative patients to communicate with their doctors after years of silence. All of this amounts to a new era in science, medicine, and education. As we learn more about the function of the brain, we can adapt to most effectively stimulate and nurture minds.

The infographic below by Mentoring Minds captures critical thinking with amazing detail, incorporating much of the new science that has emerged recently. While the infographic is designed for students, humans have plastic minds, which means that these principles apply at any age. Neuroplasticity means that the brain has the ability to change, adapt, and increase intelligence over the course of a lifetime.

Take a moment to review the information in the image, and then we will work toward some applications that you can put into practice, regardless of your age.Julie hovers over a puzzle that requires solving word problems in order to piece together a word collage that is beautiful. As a student at East Side Elementary in Middleton, California, she is used to playing games with language and numbers. Some of the games seem more like work, as they are challenging to complete.
What helps the most is that Julie is able to collaborate with her peers to work out the problems, and she has found that her friends know quite a bit. More importantly, she recognizes that she has much to contribute. Julie is competent and has a strong self esteem.

In many ways, Julie sits in an ideal learning environment, and scientists along with educators have gained so much knowledge about how children learn that school projects have cognitive design behind them. The cognitive revolution, which began with Noam Chomsky in 1957, initiated a flood of discoveries about how the brain works and learns, and teachers are able to apply this knowledge in the classroom to benefit students like Julie. This understanding of the brain increases exponentially as we move forward.

Just last year, neuroscientists pinpointed individual thoughts in the brain, monitoring the precise neural firing of a thought as it lit up the brain. Discoveries like these have allowed vegetative patients to communicate with their doctors after years of silence. All of this amounts to a new era in science, medicine, and education. As we learn more about the function of the brain, we can adapt to most effectively stimulate and nurture minds.

The infographic below by Mentoring Minds captures critical thinking with amazing detail, incorporating much of the new science that has emerged recently. While the infographic is designed for students, humans have plastic minds, which means that these principles apply at any age. Neuroplasticity means that the brain has the ability to change, adapt, and increase intelligence over the course of a lifetime.

Take a moment to review the information in the image, and then we will work toward some applications that you can put into practice, regardless of your age.

These exciting mental challenges and potential for growth mean as much for you as they do for children, and working to incorporate a intellectually rich environment into your day will yield mental dividends that will last a lifetime. You'll also see in looking through the graphic that you do an amazing amount of deep, critical thinking in an average day.

Applying some new ways of thinking will create in you a better worker and learner:

  1. Work to open your mind: As we grow older, our thinking tends to solidify and create ruts so that we are unable to think outside the boundaries of what we have thought before. Simply being conscious of this fact and reminding yourself of it will benefit you greatly. Remind yourself that this is a tendency that you are fighting against. Reading widely, not just in your normal realm of books, but in new areas, is a great way to open your mind. Reading allows for mental growth and change that resists the stagnation that comes with age as long as you approach the material openly.
  2. Find problem solving activities: You already do this much of the day in your work, taking on complex problems and working to resolve them. You might push yourself into new areas of problem solving. One idea is to use various kinds of puzzle books - not just one. Sudoku, crosswords, and word finds provide a start. However, there are books that will push your mindto tackle more complex problems, and your brain will grow and develop as you solve them. Another idea is to sit down with a newspaper and pinpoint problems in our society, thinking intensely about solutions. Even better, critically review your community, looking for problems and then working towards solutions.
  3. Dig below the surface of ideas with your ability to reason and evaluate: Again, take out the newspaper and note some critical issues that are addressed. On a piece of paper note your initial, gut reaction. But don't stop there. Work to reason and evaluate the issues from at least three other points of view. Sometimes it's helpful if you pretend you are another person: a business woman, a police officer, a construction worker, or a grocery clerk. How would they think about the problem? How would they reason through and evaluate it?
  4. Reach out to companions and colleagues to collaborate: Sometimes we become more resistant to this with age. We think we can handle problems on our own. This is true. However, so much knowledge and thinking power can be gained when you work with other people, see their unique ideas, observe how they approach problems, and discuss your ideas with them. Psychologists and educators today understand that we work more productively and effectively when we team up. Look for opportunities to participate in teams and committees in the work place. Or, start a book club with some of your friends where you read books together and share your insights.
  5. Think about what you learn through these experiences: Learning is lost if it is not reflected upon because it never makes the transition to long term memory. After an exercise with a team or after solving a problem, think about how you did it. What worked well? Where did you fail? Where did you gain the most knowledge? Even better, keep a journal to write about your answers to these kinds of questions.
  6. Apply the principles you learn to problems in everyday life: For example, maybe you learn through your Sudoku puzzles that you work better by talking yourself through the problem. When you are at work, apply that knowledge to the problems - talk or write them out. If you fail to put what you are learning into practice it will either be lost or of no value. Always be on the look out to apply your learning to new situations in your environment. One good way to accomplish this is to teach others what you have learned. Teaching a principle is the best way to push it into longterm memory.
  7. Employ your mental powers to think critically and creatively: To think critically means to analyze, question, test, debate, and resist easy answers. Thinking creatively is a companion to critical thinking because you are looking to extend beyond what you already know and think. In resisting easy answers, push for solutions that lie outside the norm, that might seem impossible, that others might see as ridiculous, and that work against the norm. Genius lies here: in applying existing knowledge in new and creative ways. Einstein wasn't a genius because he knew a lot of things, but because he took the knowledge that existed and extended it in bizarre, strange, and creative ways. He stated, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."
  8. Converse with others about your new ideas, expressing yourself as clearly as possible: Innovation and creativity go nowhere if they are not promoted with a powerful voice. Speak your mind at work, but do so with preparation and clarity of mind. Think methodically through how you are going to communicate your ideas persuasively. Brilliant ideas fall by the wayside if thinkers cannot express their ideas to other people. Push yourself in this, making a goal to share your ideas in a company meeting, to relate a plan you have to your spouse, to convey a brilliant interpretation to your book group.


Higher order thinking such as this is challenging. Developing better thinking habits requires commitment, persistence, and courage. Especially in sharing your ideas with others, you must find the power within yourself.

These ideas only scratch the surface of the ideas in the infographic above. Make it your first critical thinking task to carefully review the entire image and see what other ideas you come up with. You should find this exciting as the human mind loves to learn and grow. Take the next step and share your new knowledge with someone else.

You may have forgotten that learning and thinking are fun, but you will quickly remember. Our brains are programmed for it, and there is no age limit.



About the Writer

I am a former English professor, turned writer, but my secret passions include web design, social media, technology, Spanish, neuroscience, construction, landscaping, and bonsai on the side. I love to blog at http://www.zipminis.com, and I also write for BC Blog, Technorati, Blog Critics, and Social Media Today.
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2 comments on How to learn like a child and become a genius

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Coach Phatty on July 11, 2013 at 08:16 pm

Good stuff! The human mind is such an amazing thing.There are still many, many things that scientists still don't know about our minds. This was an informative, well-written article. Great job!

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Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Credo on October 10, 2013 at 05:00 pm

Thought provoking...

:)Credo

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