I’ve just finished reading Andy Hunt’s Pragmatic Thinking & Learning. Currently, I’m still assimilating what I’ve picked up from the book. Long before I read the book, one practice I have is to make notes and write up some sort of summary. In the process of doing so, I identify key points and interesting ideas that I would like to share to my future self. Apparently, this practice is also encouraged in the book.
Previously, I posted about the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. But in between then and now, I’ve picked up a lot of interesting stuff and, as suggested in the book, I’ve even gotten myself a personal wiki for my notes. (I’m currently using TiddlyWiki.) Anyway, here are some excerpts from my notes (some are direct quotations from the book)…
L-mode and R-mode thinking
The book identifies two modes of thinking — the (1) Linear- and the (2) Rich modes. For the L-mode, it covers Verbal, Analytic, Symbolic, Abstract, Temporal, Rational, Digital, Logical, Linear; Whereas R-mode covers Non-verbal, Synthetic, Concrete, Holistic, Spatial, Non-rational, Analogic, Intuitive, Non-linear. There’s cultural bias towards the L-mode. However, intuition and pattern matching — key abilities demonstrated by experts — lie within the R-mode.
Pragmatic learning acknowledges L-mode and R-mode
Tip 12 in the book is to: Add sensory experience to engage more of your brain. This part of the book makes an example of making use of Lego for tactile enhancement. Coincidentally, our project used to have a bunch of Lego blocks which we played around with. I’ve kept it in my drawers but after reading the book, I’m considering taking them out again and ask Roy to re-initiate his campaign for Lego donations.
Tip 13 is to: Lead with the R-mode; follow with the L-mode. Basically, with the R-mode you enrich the learning experience by feeding the brain more than just bunch of stuff to memorize. Afterwards, you follow through with the more standard L-mode of learning to validate your R-mode learning and to kinda seal the deal.
An appreciation of metaphors
“Metaphor, a common ground for both verbalizations and images is a way to voyage back and forth between the subconscious and conscious, between right and left hemispheres”
As metaphors are viewed as a point where L-mode and R-mode meet (i.e., in the act of creating analogies), it is encouraged to hone coming up with metaphors through humor.
Morning pages technique
This technique suggests to write at least 3 pages in long hand first thing in the morning. This is to take advantage of our active R-mode thought processes when we’ve just woken up. Doing so will be like making an “unguarded brain dump”. So you’d be making one more dump in the morning.
An interesting excerpt
Have you ever noticed that great ideas or insights may come to you at the oddest times? Perhaps while taking a shower, mowing the yard, doing the dishes, or doing some other menial task.
This happens because the L-mode sort of gets bored with the routine, mundane task and tunes out — leaving the R-mode free to present its findings.
The bits above are just from Chapter 4.