Have you heard the label ‘fast learner’? Or an ‘average student‘? If you were in the formal education system, you must have heard these labels. A ‘fast learner’ is a student who understands concepts faster than the rest. This is the layman’s definition. I have heard teachers conclude that a fast learner had higher IQ and better potential. 

The formal school system has some advantages. It serves majority of the population in an economy that prioritizes financial progress. The structure of the school system works for the typical family in a predictable economy. How predictable is our economy today? 

The biggest disadvantage of the formal school system is comparing each student to a standardized rubric. Imagine all adults had to pass the law test, even though we didn’t want to be lawyers. 

One such rubric is the speed of learning

In this blog, we will discover the value of speed and how to embrace it with actionable takeaways.  

Let’s visualize the value of speed through an analogy. You are on the 1st floor of a museum. You have two paths to get to the last floor. 

  • Path 1: An elevator that summarizes the history of artifacts on every floor.
  • Path 2: A spiral staircase that you climb up as you observe the artifacts, and immerse in their history. You watch historical clips, speak with experts and build an interactive experience as you go. 

Which route do you pick? It depends on the stage of the learning experience. Path 2 is an experiential route, filled with opportunities to learn with experts and discussions with peers. This is ideal when it is a new learning experience. 

Path 1 is for practice. When you know the material and have participated in the discussions before, Path 1 is a quick summary. The advantage of this path is the repetition. A learner can go through it many times in a short period. 

Both Path 1 and 2 contribute to mastery. The staircase is forming new memories and connections and the elevator is a refresh button. 

How can we embrace the staircase-elevator momentums in our daily life? 

1. Remember, it’s personal

Learning is to every learner. Each experience is unique. It is important to embrace the value of each path. You might choose to take the staircase more than once, and that is okay. Speed in learning is a systemically created rubric. You have the agency to slow down, increase the pace, or even pause. 

2. Focus on mastery

Mastery is key in reducing the need for rigid learning environments. The focus should be to learn and practice a skill deliberately until you can exhibit it repetitively. In mastery, speed helps practice but does not expect the learner to follow a certain pace. 

3. Gamify it

When learning is challenging, it builds momentum. Gamifying a learning experience does not need to be complex. Gamification needs a challenging situation, competition, and progress tracking to be efficient. 

Learning should focus on finding the right mix of spiral staircase versus elevator experiences. 

Unlearning Thought

Our brain appreciates slowness, even in learning.