TTT #4: "How to Become a Learning Machine" with Tom Cassidy

The Tomato Timer Jun 23, 2019

Our education system is primarily based on the traditional method of rote memorization. Most teachers have themselves been taught that way. And therefore, they impose a similar style on students, preferring hard work over smart work. To incorporate a completely different learning style is changing a system that has been persisting over generations. But if we are to change and try becoming more efficient, we continue to stick to this method without giving any of the others a shot.

Tom Cassidy believes that we all want to find ways to yield the maximum results with the minimum possible effort. He draws an analogy with the principle of least action to support his stand.

It's all to do with minimizing the difference between the kinetic energy and the potential energy of a system.

We are all good in different areas and might want to improve in another. The best way to do this, Tom believes, is to build upon each other's strengths. Reach out to people, know how they think, and approach a problem. If there is someone you cannot find around you, look for such people online!

Tom also talks about reverse learning. Often, when we approach a new problem, we don't know where to begin from. To find the starting point, taking the steps backwards, though a different idea, can work! As you figure out a few more steps, you will eventually find out the starting point!

Another learning method Tom mentions is that of the ability to make yourself learn through collective thinking in a group. Perhaps, it is not equally efficient if compared to being guided by a mentor at each stop. But you build the confidence to teach yourself something new and develop the skills to continue doing so.

Tom and Zubair also talk about the changing landscape of the professional world. Most degrees no longer restrict you to one career path. You can study what interests you and continue to explore. The aim of a degree is no longer to help you achieve a specialized position. Instead, it is a playground wherein you learn skills and the ability to figure things out.

The system does not conventionally prescribe exploration and skill development. We, as individuals, have to consciously make that choice against what is systemically cultivated. And that's why learning to learn is emphasized too much. Because according to how the system is currently set up, you might want to choose to adopt a different learning method to discover a less travelled route.


Ritika Singhal

Along with Zubair Junjunia

Senior year student passionate about social justice and inclusive reform | she/her