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DandelionFireworks
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21 Mar 2011, 6:55 pm

How do you learn?

I learn very well from reading books or articles on subjects I'm trying to learn about. I also benefit when said texts include pictures. Although more neurologically typical people have failed to teach me to knit, an autistic (whose body language I read instantly and easily-- parentheses are only here to avoid the construction "instantly and easily taught me to knit," by the way) taught me to knit rather quickly by showing me and giving somewhat terse and nonspecific verbal explanations (like "do this and then do this"), then watching as I did it and saying "no! You're doing it wrong!" when I did things wrong. I'm good at memorizing facts that relate to things, and can somewhat easily memorize short strings of letters or specific numbers in a context where they make some sense (e.g., I have no trouble remembering the names of fish or antipsychotics I read about), but when faced with long strings of nonsense (e.g., trying to memorize a hundred kanji), I require mnemonics, which I'm pretty good at coming up with. (These are everything from jokes to stories to pictures to just remembering that it looks kind of like a picture of something. The kanji for rain looks like a screen door with rain falling outside. The kanji for dog doesn't look like anything at all, so I drew a picture of a person with a dog sitting on her shoulder, which does look kind of like the kanji.)

I often recall the context of things. Ironically enough, I remember exactly when and how I learned the difference between episodic and semantic memory. I was listening to a lecture from a college class on psychology that had been put up on the internet. That is another way I learn, but I prefer reading to listening.

I also benefit from being taught one-on-one in an environment where I can ask questions. I didn't learn much in traditional school, but I did learn some things, like the basic idea of algebra (find an unknown), the fact that "gonna" is grammatically incorrect and the fact that I should never, ever, ever try to be accepted by my peer group.

Although it's not my primary method for understanding academic subjects, I also do little "experiments." Some are more officially sciency than others. Stuff like "how far can I make this lopsided ring roll?" or "will this grasshopper respond if I start singing some of Bob Dylan's songs?" or "so how many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop, if a lick is defined as rubbing your tongue against the tootsie pop and getting to the center is defined as reaching the point where your tongue touches the tootsie roll center?"

When I'm presented with something in another language and a translation, I usually try to learn some of the language by comparing the original and the translation. This has never been sufficient for me (and it's rather slow), but it has been really, really helpful to me in learning Japanese. I've also been able to learn at least seventeen words of Armenian this way (that I can think of off the top of my head), though I know more that I've been taught. It's more successful if you already know at least some of the language in question.

I learn pretty well from having people explain things to me, especially if I can ask questions.

I learn from watching my environment and observing how it works.

I don't learn skills very well by watching people do them. I generally need explanations.

I think this is probably all very typical. Is it? Do you learn the same way?


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anbuend
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21 Mar 2011, 7:21 pm

I learn best without trying to learn and without anyone teaching me. Those two things are pretty much certainly guaranteed to stop me from learning anything, at least anything that I can actually retain.

School is a very good example of how learning works for me. I retain virtually nothing that I was ever taught at school, unless I was able to learn it some other way as well. (Which is another way of saying, the things I do retain, I don't retain because I was taught them at school, I retain because I learned them outside of school, and I don't retain things from school pretty much ever.) But I learned a whole lot of other things at school, that nobody was trying to teach me. I learned about stuff that might be called "sociology" if it weren't for the fact that it is so totally different from academic sociology. Meaning, I learned about social power and the way it plays out in classrooms, things like that. I learned it in a very instinctive sensory way, not in a way where I could easily describe any of it in words.

Most of my learning is like that. It's instinctive, it's learned in a way that has more to do with sensory information than conceptualization, and directly trying to learn, or having others directly try to teach me, is almost always a route to failure of all of it. (Meanwhile I will always learn something, but never what they were trying to teach me, and never what I was trying to learn.) It's quite hard to describe because it doesn't happen on a conscious level. It just happens.

I'm told that this is quite common among autistic people, and that one failure of a lot of teaching methods for autistic people is that they actively impede this kind of learning.


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patiz
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21 Mar 2011, 7:31 pm

I have a rote memory, so I memorise text in paragraph form, as a photograph.



Moog
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21 Mar 2011, 7:44 pm

I think I just like to get into something, try things out, perceive the goals and methods to achieving them then have a whack at them and refine as I go.

I also work in a holistic way so I connect things up to unrelated but relatable things that I already know.


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Zen
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21 Mar 2011, 7:45 pm

I think I'm a combination of visual and hands-on learning styles. I taught myself a few coding languages just by reading and inspecting and playing with examples. When presented with new software, I can generally pick it up pretty intuitively, which has led to people asking me to solve problems with software I'd never seen in my life. And I'd do it, easily. But when someone tells me verbally how to do something, I have no idea what they're talking about. This is sometimes embarrassing when it ends up being something really easy but the communication has just failed.

The one thing that drives me nuts is if I'm trying to figure out how to do something, and the only thing I can find online are video tutorials. I hate video tutorials! I'm not sure if that's a learning style issue or just the fact that my short term memory requires me to keep going back to refresh it and that's difficult to do with a video as opposed to a list of steps.

I'm pretty awful at retaining anything from lectures though. After a few minutes, I lose the trail of thought, because I've spent too much time processing something and the speaker has gone on to a totally different place and I've no idea how s/he got there. It makes no difference how interested I am in the subject. In fact, the more interested I am, the more frustrated I get because I can't keep up.

Somehow I always did well in school though.



iamnotaparakeet
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21 Mar 2011, 7:54 pm

This sounds very similar to something I once wrote also. I do learn by reading primarily. I have a fairly exact memory of anything I read.



ruveyn
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21 Mar 2011, 8:13 pm

DandelionFireworks wrote:
How do you learn?



With grace and panache.

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tophie
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21 Mar 2011, 9:01 pm

I like words along with pictures. Textbooks are good because they generally have exactly that, and when taking tests in school I will have vague snapshots of the pages in my head, so that I can remember the layout and where certain bits of information were. As long as I have the visual element (words on a page at the very least), that pretty much cements my learning. I can learn by observation and example without much explanation. I'm not as good with pure auditory, unless it's music which is different.

I'm the type of person who would read the instruction manual and examine the diagrams before constructing a piece of furniture.

School was basically a perfect learning environment for me, luckily, despite being infuriatingly slow in introducing new information (there was far too much repetition and review). I learn things quickly and remember things with ease.

The only thing that is guaranteed to impede my learning is group work. I learn better on my own. Having other people around seems to just drag me down because I never get to go at the fast, easy pace that I would like to.



Zen
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21 Mar 2011, 9:05 pm

tophie wrote:
The only thing that is guaranteed to impede my learning is group work. I learn better on my own. Having other people around seems to just drag me down because I never get to go at the fast, easy pace that I would like to.

Ugh, yes. In group projects, I either ended up doing everything or nothing. I couldn't do anything in between.



SammichEater
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21 Mar 2011, 9:09 pm

I can remember anything if I want to, but I often have a hard time forcing myself to remember crap I don't care about. I remember pictures and general concepts much more than anything. Specific facts and pieces of information often escape my brain.



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21 Mar 2011, 10:40 pm

Generally, by myself. If it's a particularly theory heavy in depth subject, I need a good text book with example, problems, and solutions.



CockneyRebel
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21 Mar 2011, 10:52 pm

I learn the best by watching documentaries. I go by images and the spoken word.


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daydreamer84
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22 Mar 2011, 12:43 am

I learn through reading and writing about a topic and through listening and speaking..........I'm an auditory/verbal learner. I have a very good rote memory.....usually for insignificant details. Also I read out loud (when studying) because it helps me focus.



KBerg
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22 Mar 2011, 2:15 am

Depends on the stuff, but for things that you can do .. show me, don't tell me. Once you've shown, let me do one, then explain and only then we can discuss the theory. Visual over auditory. Hands-on (mechanics of doing it) over theory. And to the point over long drawn out 'this is your first time so lets take this really slow and talk about blah blah' runaround intros. I hate having to listen to the intro to something all the frigging time at the expense of the actual subject. You should never be giving the sales pitch after your audience/students have bought into your premise - it makes you look weak and as if you have no faith in your subject to stand on it's own.



dunbots
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22 Mar 2011, 2:26 am

I learn best by examples. A lot of the time I can't understand something unless I am given examples, otherwise it just won't get into my head. It drives me crazy when someone attempts to teach me something without giving me any examples. :P