Application vs. Learning Mode


Did you know that your brain operates in two different modes when it’s going through a learning experience?

A brain in learning mode is completely different from a brain in application mode.

So how is it different?
In the learning phase, the brain is able to take in a complete overview without needing to know specific details. But the moment it switches to application mode, it needs more than just concepts. It needs immediate steps.

So let’s take an example:
E.g. You want to learn to say ‘goodbye’ in Swahili.

Well, you may have heard someone saying ‘goodbye and see you soon’ in Swahili several times. So when you hear the sound, and the sequence of words, your brain already knows that ‘goodbye’ is being said. And the brain knows the meaning of the words being said.

But if you don’t know the meaning of the words, then you simply notice that everyone’s smiling and crying. And you can’t figure out why. When you understand the words, you are now not only understanding it, but able to comprehend it.

But are you able to say it?
Because you still have to work out the pronunciation at the very least.
But a brain that is in learning mode is different from a brain in application mode.
In the learning phase you can take in three days of talk in a seminar (even if you don’t remember it all). But in application mode, you want the most immediate steps.

This is why people don’t learn quickly
They expect to read a book, or listen to an audio and get the concept instantly. But your brain isn’t working like that at all. It’s first taking an overview, then slipping into application trying to decipher the steps.

This is why I will listen to the same thing over and over again
I’ll learn languages by listening, or doing the same thing over and over again. I’ll listen to the same audio five-seven times. And I’ll read as well as make notes of a book, often going back to it to read again. Because I understand my brain.

Do you understand yours?
There’s more efficiency in reading one book five times than there is in reading five books.
There’s more efficiency in listening to one audio several times than listening to ten audio files.
Repetition isn’t for repetition’s sake.

Repetition is meant for the brain to first get an overview, then apply.
So now, read this article twice, will ya?

Then apply it to your reading, listening etc.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Charest

I was having a impassioned discussion with my wife the other day. Mainly because we’re sick of listening to people complain that they’re unhappy. Or that things suck. What gets me going is that these people complaining are the ones who don’t understand that you have to put in some effort.

You have to continually work at getting better. It doesn’t happen overnight. Yet these people look down at the ones who put in the effort. As if they’re some type of oddity for wanting to become better.

It just blows my mind that they expect positive outcomes without putting in the effort. Or opening their minds to thinking about a different way to approach something.

It frightens me a bit because we’ve seen it with the college kids we’ve worked with. They looked at us as if we had three heads when they saw they way we had prepared our scripts for the production we did with them.

Then we told them how many times we’ve read the script. As you mention here first as an overview. And then more and more detail and discovery each time. I had over 213 page of research in a PDF from working through the script.

And there was this sense of I don’t want to do all that work coming from them. And it saddens me. And it saddens me even more when I see it coming from not just the students but also other adults.

I’m feeling more and more that inspiring and encouraging people to be better is more important than ever. Thanks for being one of those people. 🙂

Sorry if I ranted a bit there.

I wrote a little article along this idea of going back and looking at the details to see things that others miss.

Take a look:


I don’t think you ranted.

Or let’s say it was a good rant. 🙂

Dave Charest

Thanks. 🙂

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