Ultralearning describes a method of quickly learning new skills and information, something writers often have to do while researching material. I think Ultralearning will be most useful for someone who has never done any kind of learning/research project. Quite honestly, in the time I've committed to studying this book and trying to apply it to my history learning, I could have probably done the research I wanted to do using my hit-or-miss methods from the past. But researching this learning method could change how I learn other things in the future.
The Ultralearning Blog Posts
Here is an annotated round-up of the blog posts I've done about Ultralearning.
- Write What You Know and Ultralearning. Why writers might want to do an ultralearning project.
- Principle 1. Metalearning. Learning about how to study your subject. Learning "how knowledge is structured and acquired within this subject; in other words, learning how to learn it." Interesting section of the book.
- Principle 2. Focus. This is essentially time management. We've done this.
- Principle 3. Directness. Involves tying your research to the situation you want to use it in.While I wasn't a fan of this chapter when I read it, one of the things Scott discusses is immersive learning. This is definitely missing from my ultralearning history project, right now. I haven't done a good job with that with this project. I think immersion is an important aspect of writing, and I can see why it would be helpful when trying to learn something, especially if you want to do it fast.
- Principle 4. Drills. I didn't see how I could use this with my history methodology project, but maybe something will come to me. And I can see how it would be helpful with other types of learning. Say, studying French, which I tinker with from time to time.
- Principle 5. Retrieval. This section was about using testing to improve your retrieval of material. Forcing yourself to try to retrieve material helps you to remember it. I didn't know how I could do this with my project at the time I read the chapter and blogged about. However, now that I am actually studying and trying to get started on a little writing, the outlining and character development I'm working on might be perceived as a pretest. It's at that point that I find out what I need to know and can go looking for that knowledge.
- Principle 6. Feedback. Different types of feedback on how you're doing with your learning project. I consider ways writers can get this.
- Principle 7. Retention. Obviously, this is about retaining what you've learned. I argue that this isn't terribly important for writers, researching for a particular writing project.
- Principle 8. Intuition. I believe Young is talking here about getting to a point in your learning that your knowledge is broad enough that you don't have to think intently about it. But I can't be sure, because I found this chapter difficult.
Principle 9. Experimentation. Getting to the point in your learning that you move past learning to something else. Doing something with your learning. This is another chapter I had to guess at.
- Principle 10. Your First Ultralearning Project. Making a plan.
At some point, I'll report on what this project ended up doing for me.
My response to this book reminds me about how I felt about Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. (Try as I will, I can't find an Original Content post on Quiet.) I was not taken with that book, felt there was an intoverts-good/extroverts-bad vibe to it, for instance. However, over time the issues raised in it have had a big impact on my world view and the character-development for one of my unsold middle grade novels. I've gifted a copy to a family member and recommended it to others. I wonder if Ultralearning, in the long run, could end up being the same kind of post-reading experience for me.