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Demystify Writing Misconceptions

“Demystify Writing Misconceptions” was written by Joe Moxley.

Learn the beliefs that empower successful academic authors.

To become a competent, confident writer, you may find it useful to analyze your attitudes about writing. After all, your assumptions about how writers work can limit your imagination and the quality of your finished product. You can debunk a truckload of myths about writing by analyzing how you write, how your peers write, and how professional writers write.

Writer are Born Rather Than Nurtured

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How to: LEARN

By http://www.psychotactics.com

There are two ways to eat a cake.
You can eat it in small pieces.
Or gobble the whole thing down.

Most of us would like to gobble, whether it comes to cake or learning

And like cake, learning needs to be tackled in small portions. Small portions not only help you learn, but help you learn a lot faster. Here are three core reasons why:

1) The sleep factor
2) The tiredness factor
3) The mistake factor.

Let’s start with the sleep factor

When you learn something, the brain tries to make sense of it. And then it goes about doing whatever it’s supposed to do. Then you go to bed.  You might get just 6 hours of sleep, but in that time your brain is processing parts of your day. And if you’ve learned a new skill, there’s a good chance it’s doing just that—processing your new skill.

My niece, Marsha is just 8 (at the time of writing this article)

And she comes across to my office to learn to implement a concept called Bal-Vis-X. It’s a combination of skills that make students sharper and smarter than ever before. But here’s what happens during our exercise.

At first, Marsha struggles with a new exercise (there are over 300 exercises in the entire program). And we don’t force the issue. She just goes home and goes to sleep. Then she comes back for the next session. In between those two sessions, nothing has changed. The only difference is the sleep factor. Yet, almost immediately you can see the difference.

And the same applies to your learning

You can learn just about anything. And then it’s time to sleep. The very next day there will be a difference. Whether you will be able to discern the difference or not isn’t relevant, there will be a difference, nonetheless.

Over weeks and months you’ll be able to see a chunky difference. And sleep, believe it or not, plays a massive role. So yes, turning off that stupid TV (yes, stupid) will make you a lot smarter.  But then, can’t bulk learning make you smarter? Surely the brain can absorb a lot more information at one go. Yes it can, but there’s a problem called tiredness that steps right in.

2) The tiredness factor

Bulk learning is plainly ineffective when compared with daily learning—and you don’t need a research scientist to tell you that. If you’re flirting with a new skill, the brain is under tremendous pressure. It’s trying to absorb what’s being written, work out the context and—because it’s a skill—apply it to your job or your life. Think about the amount of glucose that sucks up from your body. Now multiply that learning over 3 hours, or a day, and what you’ll find are drop outs.

It would seem that you’ve heard it all, and yet unless you have a phenomenal ability, there’s a chance you lost little chunks past the first ten minutes of instruction. As the learning advances, you start losing bigger chunks.

Now admittedly this depends on your level of skill. Let’s say you already know a lot about Photoshop, and you’re sitting in a Photoshop seminar, your brain doesn’t strain too much. But the moment some new features come up, your brain has to do a fair bit of work. The more facts you have to remember the more tired it gets and dropouts are inevitable. It’s only when you see the work of others, working on the same exercise, that you realise how many subtleties you’ve missed.

When you do daily learning, you get to re-examine what you’ve learned—and what you’ve missed. And this brings us to the third part: The mistake factor.

3) The mistake factor

If you do something every day, you learn from new mistakes every day. If you bulk your learning the mistakes are all a blur. But daily mistakes get highlighted. And not just your mistakes, but in a group, the mistakes of the entire group. There’s more than a good chance that a group of just 5-7 people will make as many as 5-15 mistakes in a single day. This is because everyone interprets information differently, and executes differently.

So you get to learn—and more importantly, revise what you know. And what you don’t know. Bulk learning is not as efficient, because the mistakes are made en masse, and the teacher may not be overly keen to point out 35 mistakes in one day. Over a week, 35 mistakes are just 5 mistakes a day. Every mistake gets its own spotlight and hence you get the chance to eliminate those mistakes systematically.

And yet most of us believe in bulk learning

And this is because we’re in a hurry. Yet, the best way to learn something, is to slow things down considerably. It takes most people about 2-3 years to become extremely proficient at a skill like writing or drawing. Yet with the right teacher and the right system this can be shortened to just 6-8 months. And that’s because the pace slows down considerably. You detect and fix more errors. And what is talent, but the systematic reduction of errors?

You’ve done the  gobble-gobble learning and you know the results.

Now try the daily learning. Better still, try it in a group.

And prepare to be amazed.

Photo credit: http://homebrewedchristianity.com

5 Things That Really Smart People Do

Don’t get in the way of your own learning. Here are five ways to step aside and continue to increase your smarts.

By Kevin Daum @ http://www.inc.com

Most people don’t really think much about how they learn. Generally you assume learning comes naturally. You listen to someone speak either in conversation or in a lecture and you simply absorb what they are saying, right? Not really. In fact, I find as I get older that real learning takes more work. The more I fill my brain with facts, figures, and experience, the less room I have for new ideas and new thoughts. Plus, now I have all sorts of opinions that may refute the ideas being pushed at me. Like many people I consider myself a lifelong learner, but more and more I have to work hard to stay open minded.

But the need for learning never ends, so your desire to do so should always outweigh your desire to be right. The world is changing and new ideas pop up everyday; incorporating them into your life will keep you engaged and relevant. The following are the methods I use to stay open and impressionable. They’ll work for you too. No matter how old you get.

1. Quiet Your Inner Voice

You know the one I am talking about. It’s the little voice that offers a running commentary when you are listening to someone. It’s the voice that brings up your own opinion about the information being provided. It is too easy to pay more attention to the inner voice than the actual speaker. That voice often keeps you from listening openly for good information and can often make you shut down before you have heard the entire premise. Focus less on what your brain has to say and more on the speaker. You may be surprised at what you hear.

2. Argue With Yourself

If you can’t quiet the inner voice, then at least use it to your advantage. Every time you hear yourself contradicting the speaker, stop and take the other point of view. Suggest to your brain all the reasons why the speaker may be correct and you may be wrong. In the best case you may open yourself to the information being provided. Failing that, you will at least strengthen your own argument.

3. Act Like You Are Curious

Some people are naturally curious and others are not. No matter which category you are in you can benefit from behaving like a curious person. Next time you are listening to information, make up and write down three to five relevant questions. If you are in a lecture, Google them after for answers. If you are in a conversation you can ask the other person. Either way you’ll likely learn more, and the action of thinking up questions will help encode the concepts in your brain. As long as you’re not a cat you should benefit from these actions of curiosity.

4. Find the Kernel of Truth

No concept or theory comes out of thin air. Somewhere in the elaborate concept that sounds like complete malarkey there is some aspect that is based upon fact. Even if you don’t buy into the idea, you should at least identify the little bit of truth from whence it came. Play like a detective and build your own extrapolation. You’ll enhance your skills of deduction and may even improve the concept beyond the speaker’s original idea.

5. Focus on the Message Not the Messenger

Often people shut out learning due to the person delivering the material. Whether it’s a boring lecturer, someone physically unappealing, or a member of the opposite political party, the communicator can impact your learning. Even friends can disrupt the learning process since there may be too much history and familiarity to see them as an authority on a topic. Separate the material from the provider. Pretend you don’t know the person or their beliefs so you can hear the information objectively. As for the boring person, focus on tip two, three, or four as if it were a game, thereby creating your own entertainment.

Photo credit: http://financialpostbusiness.files.wordpress.com

Three favourite quotes from The Animal Farm (George Orwell)

Attention: spoiler.

If you have not read The Animal Farm but intend to in the future (or even if you don’t) here are my three favourite quotes from the book.

Quote 1

THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Quote 2

For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:   ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

Quote 3

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

 

Photo credit: http://www.michaelspornanimation.com

4 Movie Quotes to Get You Through Exams

There’s no doubt about it — exams are the pits. Being stuck in the library for hours, bored out of your mind is the absolute worst. Oh, and trying to get motivated to study instead of Facebooking? Forget about it. As much as you want to skip studying and play Call of Dutyinstead, you’ve got to snap out of it and hit the books. If the pressure of crunch time isn’t keeping you focused or getting you excited about philosophy or molecular biology, then check out these seven great movie quotes to get you through exams.

  1. “Do, or do not. There is no try.” (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)

    The incredibly wise Yoda can teach us all a lesson or two about doing our best to succeed, especially when it comes to exams! Just like Yoda tells Luke Skywalker to either do something right or don’t do it at all, you should either study hard for your exams or not even bother if you’re only going to “try.”

  2. “Remember, kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” (The Sandlot)

    Children of the ’90s know and love The Sandlot dearly. Just the thought of the movie can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it’s the wise words of Babe Ruth that make it even more awesome. So when you’re stuck in the library studying and wondering if you’ll ever make it in the history textbooks, remember what “The Great Bambino” said about heroes and legends and following your heart, kid.

  3. “Stupid is as stupid does” (Forrest Gump)

    Feeling stupid because you can’t remember the rules of exponents or who won World War I? Well, Forrest Gump would tell you, “Stupid is as stupid does.” This Southern saying means that no matter how stupid you or others think you are, your actions are the only thing that really matters. So, if you don’t study for your exams, but still expect to get all A’s, you might be, well, stupid.

  4. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

    Take it from wiseguy Ferris Bueller; he knows a thing or two about living life to the fullest. OK, so you might not be able to play hooky or get out of taking your exams, but as soon as you’re done with the grind of finals, get outside, dine at an upscale restaurant, go to a baseball game, jump on a parade float, and just have fun, the Bueller way.

FREE business textbooks

Last week I came across a compelling online business library  consisting of (almost) everything I need for the business writing, economics and related studies, including loads of wonderfully written textbooks.

And when I say “wonderfully written”, I mean that an earth, mortal human without previous phd degree could easily understand the essentials, then roll sleeves and get to work.

Over 800 textbooks written by professors

We currently offer over 800 textbooks. The books are in average around 200 pages long, and are being used as both primary and secondary literature.

All our books are written by highly respected professors from some of the best universities in the world and exclusively for bookboon.com.

There we have it, welcome:

Why is it free?

There is an excerpt of BookBoon.com mission and concept:

Bookboon.com publishes free and openly available eBooks for students and business professionals. The Books can be downloaded in PDF without registration. Our mission is that students should be able to go through university without having to pay for textbooks.

If you had a look, please share your experience in the comments below. Do you find it useful the way I did (I already finished two of the books on communication).

Have a magnificent Wednesday,

Tricky unique grammar

Just another note about the challenges of the English language. Why “a unique…” rather than “an unique…”?

When a “u” word is pronounced as though it begins with a “y” (yoo nique), it’s treated more like the consonant sound of the y.

So:

  • a university;
  • an umbrella;
  • a usual day;
  • an unusual day.

Via http://wordwhirled.blogspot.com

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