10 Tips on Learning Better as a Student or Activist (And Why it Matters)

February 21, 2015

Courtesy of Randi Hausken, No Changes were made

Courtesy of Randi Hausken, No Changes were made

New York, United States (TFC– Activists and students are almost the same. The major difference is that in order to be an activist, the activist must also be a student. Unlike the student, however, they must have a clear and defined mission. They are not learning for the sake of learning, but they are learning to help their mission. And as any activist should, they should feel the duty (To themselves and to their mission) to be better educated. They should be better educated in subjects such as literature, critical thinking, history, science, painting, crafting, music, and many more. For pure students, I know it is not easy (both on free time or social lives) to learn new things outside of the classroom. In fact, it is hard to learn anything new because of the extreme amount of work school puts on students. Why else? Because you don’t control what you learn. I wrote this article because I want to give 10 tips on how to learn better as an activist so its fun, active, and efficient (Because who wants to be a boring activist?) and to the pure student to make outside learning (Or school learning) more fun, active, and efficient.

Haven’t I learned enough already? Why is this important? 

Nobody has learned enough ever (Not even Albert Einstein!). Learning is better understood as a continuous process of gaining information than it is a process with a deadline and a degree. For the activist, it may look like school teaches you enough to be anything you want. In reality though, they only teach what the state approves (Especially with the introduction of Common Core). The state would never approve a course that teaches you deceit and lies that everyday people are told by their governments. They would never train you so you can motivate social change. They would never train you to make novel solutions for a unsolved problem (Because nearly every question asked by a teacher has an answer that is well known). They will never teach you these skills, so it is your duty to be or become an independent learner.

In addition, they won’t teach beyond fundamental skills. One well documented example of this would be music education. Music education in many schools (With few exceptions) is being cut more and more every year in favor of giving money and resources to tiring and, in reality, useless fundamental subjects. Not surprisingly, this leads to a general disliking of school, general disliking of education, and a general disliking of learning new information.

For the pure student who wants to go to college, this is so important for a very major reason. As competition for good colleges increases, your grades are no longer enough to get you in. I know people who have all 5 honors classes available and get straight A’s, yet they may not get into the college of their choice. Why? Because many students in the modern day are learning to hack this system and get straight A’s, and colleges are well aware of this. To make sure they are getting quality students, independent activities are becoming the new SAT and ACT for students. It is becoming the main decider. What do I mean? Right on MIT’s Admission Page, it says,

“Go out of your way to find projects, activities and experiences that stimulate your creativity and leadership, that connect you with peers and adults who bring out your best, that please you so much you don’t mind the work involved.” (Link here)

This means it matters if you are doing something that is not required from school and it shows how much effort you can put into something.

As well as such, it will improve your intellectual capital. The more intelligent you are (And Tip 3 will show potential beyond this) the more intellectual capital you will obtain.

The Tips

1. Once you know what you want to learn, immerse yourself but limit yourself

Application for the Pure Student: This seems very simple, but it isn’t. Many people will dive into the textbooks early and eager, and shut that book as fast as they opened it. Sometimes, the best way to keep motivation and learn well is to limit yourself to a little bit each day (For a rough example, 10-20 pages a week), though this is not a definite scale (Based on how much you need to do to keep you excited but not make you lose interest). This will allow you to not only to soak up all the information, but it will make you want more and more information. This can also be accompanied with something you like and can control at all times, which using Pavlov’s experiment (Link to better understand this experiment here). Using this mix of a psychological backdoor and classical conditioning, you can love what you learn and crave more.

Application for the Activist: The activist should follow all the information above for the pure student, but it should be analyzed a different way. As an activist, its hard to use the first part due to the fact that you must be on the edge and ready for new information at all times. A student (In exceptions for taking such information to make a novel solution) does not need to do this. Instead, you can use a your community of friends in activism to keep you motivated. Community is what the activist has that the student will usually not have, and time is what the activist will usually not have. Use your advantages.

2. Focus on one thing at a time, never multi-task

Application for the Pure Student: Don’t multi-task if you are trying to learn something. A study from Stanford (Link here) proves that multi-tasking is less efficient than focusing on one thing. Focusing on one thing at a time doesn’t mean that you cannot learn something else until you are finished with that one thing (If you have school, you can learn other things in school and still be fine).This means when you are focusing on one thing (Whether that’d be a video or a book), stick to that until its done. That will make you an expert at that subject and increase your ability to focus in general.

Application for the Activist: The activist should most certainly follow all the information given above, and should focus on one subject. Through conventional knowledge, many people (Especially in the government) are afraid that if activists organize successfully into a more concrete group, they can be a very dangerous force. The reality is that they are not afraid of most activists currently. They are afraid of the UN probe, not the Activist probe. A well educated activist community will make governments fear activists more and more every day, as through education they become better equipped to deal with trained government officials.

3. Learn tough things, not easy things

Application for the Pure Student: It may appear as though it is better to learn simple information to better your understand, but that isn’t a tactic that actually works. You should introduce yourself to a subject with general information. When you are introduced to the subject though, the information should be challenging. The better way to understand this is if you are weightlifting. You shouldn’t spend all your time with the light weights; spend only the amount of time you need with them and get to the challenging weights. If you can easily read at a 9th grade reading level, shoot for a more challenging 11th grade reading level when trying to learn that specific information. This actually makes your neurons stronger (Link here) and also makes you able to learn better information in the future. It also forces you to shoot for harder goals, which in turn will help you in all parts of your life. You will shoot for the challenges as this seeps into other parts of your life slowly but surely.

Application for the Activist: This is the most important rule that the least amount of activists follow. Its how activists come “miraculously” to understand everything in a 400 page torture report even though they couldn’t go to college. The tougher you set your standards, the more and more primary sources and documents you will be able to read. To be a ‘sheep’ activist (An ‘activist’ that follows the alternative crowd), you can read the Daily Sheeple or Alex Jones. It you want to stay an intelligent activist, you should make a conscious effort to read the harder documents. Remember, governments and corporations are afraid you’re smart enough to read the fine print. They can’t discredit you if you can show quotes from the text that prove your point.

4. Summarize your Information

Application for the Pure Student: This is a form of quizzing and analyzing what you learn. What does this mean? Instead of writing something down word for word, summarize it into your own words, so your neurons spend more time on the problem of understanding it. This actually forces your mind to understand the subject. This technique will let you know whether you know that subject or not. This technique will also improve the ability to understand that subject. Summarizing is a form of quizzing that allows you to better understand what you are studying.

Application for the Activist: The same information applies. If you are not summarizing your information, you will not understand something as well as if you do not. A trick to understanding tough information is to summarize the information. When you are reading anything that is tough to understand, summarize it in your own words. You’ll remember it better.

5. Ignore Bias in Learning

Application for the Pure Student: Bias is nearly everywhere, and because of that reason, you know how to ignore bias at all costs. This is so important, because it hinders learning and opens your “Monkey Mind” to question and bring you off topic. The best way to ignore bias is to openly say it exists in the text, so it does not take an unconscious holding in you.

Application for the Activist: As an activist, you must question everything, but when you are gathering information for learning, try to ignore the bias. If the article is only bias , then ignore the article.

6. Competition Doesn’t Hurt

Application for the Pure Student: According to Lars Tvede in his TED talk, centralization kills creativity. Decentralization, not isolation, makes creativity thrive. Use competition and rivalry to your advantage. It will challenge you to learn more and be better in general. You can compete against the clock or ask another interested friend to compete against you. This will boost creativity and especially, the drive to learn more.

Application for the Activist: The activist actually already has this. No activist sees eye to eye on everything, so use this as an advantage. For example, there are people both for and against the Keystone XL pipeline (And I spent time on both sides). Be competitive and look for information to convince the other party. This is where you become an influential person. This is how activism works. Don’t reach a common ground if it means giving up your argument. Since you are not dealing with countries, nobody who has any sense of morality is going to die or kill over it.

7. Use Networking Sources to Expand Your Education

Application for the Pure Student: It is very effective to get in contact with department heads and ask them if they can get you in contact with someone from a college. Sometimes, you will want to expand. Sometimes, you will need to expand. Using your school to expand your network is something that will make a strong difference (And high schools usually have contact with colleges that can expand your learning networks). Beyond schools though, you can use friends or family to expand your networks for learning. You mom’s friend might be a neurologist for all you know. Beyond that, you can also expand your network through social media websites or through e-mailing mentors (There are many tips and tricks across the web to convince them to look at your e-mail).

Application for the Activist: The activist can expand their networks even beyond what was said above. They can expand their networks by attending social protests or using “friend bombs” to get in contact with people who share your ideology. You can also do this by making a page and sharing articles with others. By posting your knowledge with others, those activists will usually feel a compulsion to share their knowledge with you. And they will network with you. Network if you want to learn more.

8. Learn to Eliminate Anxiety

Application for the Pure Student: Anxiety is one the most detrimental emotional states that exists for the student. The student will deal with so much anxiety, they may lose the ability to fight anxiety well. To ignore it isn’t enough, because it is a tool your “monkey mind” uses against you to try and hurt you. It uses anxiety to procrastinate, hold you back, and create fear. In reality, the cause of fear is anxiety. Learn to stop anxiety right in its tracks. Sit down with your learning materials and do something you enjoy, interacting with your learning material and learn to calm the anxiety when it comes. If the anxiety is too much however, you should bring this up to a psychologist, who could better handle the situation.

Application for the Activist: The activist must also deal with this but usually in larger loads of anxiety. This is because activists usually see lots of sad, depressing, cruel, or frustrating information. Everything above said are great examples of learning to eliminate anxiety when you are learning things.

9. Learn where and how to Obtain Information for Reduced or No Cost, But Value Education over Money

Application for the Pure Student: You can learn just as much for low or no cost then paying a lot of money for information. Training is the only exception to this rule. Online examples include MIT OCW, Khan Academy, and YouTube. You can learn a lot through free essays that are on many independent websites. At the same time, however, value education over money. If your training costs $400, that $400 will most likely be better spent in education than anything else (Though use your common sense to know what type of training is worth the money you are paying for).

Application for the Activist: Everything above relates to the activist. There are no real changes from the information above to the information that can be provided here.

10. Apply the Information you Learn to solve a Bold Challenge OR to Organize

Application for the Pure Student: After you learn the information, you should apply the information. The best way to do this is to solve a Bold Challenge. What does this mean? Solve a challenge that is not only important to solve and may not have a single solution, but is very hard to solve. This is when your previous knowledge becomes insufficient, and you have to learn on your own more. Every subject has many bold challenges. Especially with a creative subject.

Application for the Activist: For the Activist, this is applying the information you learn to organize. This means teaming up with other people with your same views or people who feel indifferent about the conflict and convincing them to join your group. Organizing a group as an activist will make your activism stronger in power and influence. In general, organize everything you have learned and apply it to your group.

Closing

In general, using these 10 tips (There are more, but these are 10 that everyone should know that aren’t said enough) to make a change in your education will make you more powerful.

For the activist, think of the difference between the uneducated person talking about the government (Link here) and the educated person talking about the government (Link here). They are massive, in the favor of the educated.

To be a student, you must be willing to educate yourself. To be an activist, you must be an inspired student.