On Learning and Balance
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“An important aspect of learning is balance.
On one hand, learning is balancing the input with the output.”
“What is the input and output of learning?”
“The input of learning is information. The most important kind of information is experiential-information. What we experience directly (direct experience), or indirectly, through exposure to the experiences of others (indirect experience). Since our direct experience is limited, indirect experience is an essential supplement.
The output of learning is the creation of persistent structures.
Persistent behavioral structures – habits and skills.
Persistent mental structures – insights and useful mental models.
Viewed as processes, the output of learning is two-fold: implementation and understanding.
Let’s say you want to read for an hour every day. If you read passively, that’s all input, and very low efficiency. You’ll likely forget most if not all of it. Active reading is both input and output. Deeply engaging with the information, taking notes, connecting it with your existing knowledge, and testing yourself to maximize retention.
Or let’s say you have a certain meaningful experience. If you don’t reflect on it afterwards, that’s all input. Whatever lesson the experience contained will be lost. Active living means living an experience twice: both in the present moment, and in hindsight, to extract the treasure within.
On the other hand, learning is balancing the outputs. Balancing implementation with understanding.
In practical terms that means dividing your learning time each day between implementation and understanding. Creating space every day for practice and implementation.”