My Premise: Learning is Sub-Optimal by a Factor of 1000x

Here is my basic premise, and driver: it is possible for the value of global human capital – that is, people problem-solvers and wealth-generators – to be increased by orders of magnitude.

The posts in this blog are motivated by this belief, and will explore it and illustrate it using dominantly my personal experience in context of the work at MIND Research Institute.

The billions of people on this planet are the solution to their problems, not the problem itself. Solutions come through people learning knowledge and skills which they can then creatively apply to problems. And learning can be:

  • 10 Times Faster
  • 10 Times Cheaper – for 10 Times more Reach
  • 10 Times More Effective, Deeper, and Better-Retained

I said people as “wealth” generators, and I mean wealth in the broadest terms: yes money, but also jobs creation, personal fulfillment, creative arts, free time, community health, personal happiness and satisfaction in the family and workplace.

By Faster I mean: reducing the number of minutes-on-task, and of calendar months, to reach a given performance level.

By Cheaper I mean: reducing Dollars per Learning.

By More Effective I mean: improving success rates for those who commence learning anything.

By Deeper I mean: gaining a substantial conceptual framework, and skills in recognizing patterns, which enable solving of non-standard, sophisticated, tricky problems. This is not a typical goal. Here’s a counter-example: a deep understanding of history is not the Jeopardy-winning ability to extract or match factoids of date, place, and name quickly out of one’s brain (note: a computer program called Watson recently beat the best human Jeopardy champions — of course).

By Better Retention I mean: retain beyond the formal assessment period. Whatever you don’t retain for effective re-use over the long-term (years), was a waste of time and resources to learn, and a rationalization of being able to re-learn it more quickly is extremely weak to the point of useless. Comedy show Saturday Night Live’s character Father Guido Sarducci makes this point, hilariously in “The Five Minute University.”

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One thought on “My Premise: Learning is Sub-Optimal by a Factor of 1000x

  1. “Whatever you don’t retain for effective re-use over the long-term (years), was a waste of time and resources to learn, and a rationalization of being able to re-learn it more quickly is extremely weak to the point of useless.”
    I had the same feeling when I got my B.Sc. I barely remember anything from the courses I passed and I got a little disappointed spending four years on nothing! Early after, I got a job in a big factory. Although I didn’t remember the contents of the courses I passed except a vague picture of each, but those courses had given me an intuition and wider perspective of the world around me; I had much better solutions to the problems I saw comparing to my other colleagues who didn’t attend college!
    So, I absolutely agree with you that we should seek for a more efficient way of learning, maybe a problem-driven learning, learning with the goal of solving a problem, but at the same time, I don’t agree with the Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University – the intuition I got during my undergrad is worth 4 years and cannot be taught in “1 minute” !

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