Learning by doing

I monitor John Cook’s SansMouse feed about once a day – it gives you tips about how to use your keyboard instead of switching to the mouse.

The thing which struck me is how much my learning of the tricks depends on doing them. While I might “know”  that Windows-M minimizes windows, I won’t remember the movements or purpose automatically till I’ve done them a few times.

The size of the gap between learning by reading/watching and learning by doing always amazes me. Retention by reading along is about 10-20%. Retention after doing something just once is about 60% or greater, depending on what it is.

I see this everywhere nowadays – in how I write code, learn new sports, tie new knots. If you want to learn something, it’s not enough to read about it or watch it – you’ve got to do it, at least once.


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