Iterative Learning


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is iterative learning?”

“Not long ago, at my brother’s suggestion, I watched a video on YouTube called Iterative Drawing, by a guy called Sycra Yasin, describing a beautiful learning method. I realized the method can be applied to learning anything, not just drawing – and so the idea of iterative learning was born.”

“What’s the essence of the method?”

“If you want to improve at anything, repetition is key. The metaphor Sycra uses is mileage

To improve, you need to get a lot of rep(etition)s in. (Quantity) There’s no way around it.

To improve faster, you need to maximize the learning from each rep. (Quality) In other words, it requires deliberate practice.

A quality-rep is a learning cycle [<link; short read]. 

Quality-rep = Learning Cycle = Feedback + Reflection

The method is brilliant in that it addresses both quantity and quality at the same time (thus increasing practice-density [<link; short read]), which allows you to gain mileage quickly.

You pick something you want to focus on (clear goals).

You fill a page (or more) with variations on that thing. Each iteration is essentially an experiment.

With each iteration, you analyze and reflect on it, extracting key lessons and principles.”

“Can you give an example of how you’re applying it to something other than drawing?”

“Sure.

One of the things I’m learning about is humor. I want to get better at it. 

I’m currently reading a book about humor called You Can Be Funny and Make People Laugh by Gregory Peart.

One actionable insight from the book is that direct questions are an opportunity to practice humor.

Direct questions, like, “Where are you going?” or “What are you doing?” are perfect opportunities for experimenting with unanticipated humorous responses. The question-asker is likely expecting a literal answer, so a lighthearted and funny response could result in easy humor simply because it’s unexpected.

This is an opportunity to practice iterative learning.

I write a question at the top of a page, and I start generating possible answers (thus practicing creativity at the same time). The focus is on quantity, not quality. Whenever I stumble upon a funny response, I give it a rating (1 – mildly funny, 2 – funny, 3 – very funny), and reflect on what makes it funny.

For instance:

What are you doing?

I’m…

– breathing autumn. (1)
– breathtaking.
– digging for treasure. (2)
– growing hair. (3)
– hiking around the sun. (3)
– knitting. (1)
– living danjerously. (2)
– playing at adulting. (3)
– pacticing average. (1)
– practicing awkwardness.
– questing. (1)
– ruminating ruminations. (1)

The goal is to do as many as possible. Dozens. This is an open process [<link; short read]. Whenever I come up with another idea, I add it to the page.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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