With the advent of artificial intelligence, scientists are even more puzzled about how the human brain learns. Artificial neural networks mimic the human brain and the results that those neural networks produce are astonishing. The capabilities of neural networks are considered to be super-human in their ability to recognize patterns. Yet, when we compare the speed at which the neural networks learn compared to the speed at which humans learn, ordinary humans learn substantially faster than the best neural networks. A neural network can outperform any human player of any game on the planet, however it will require several million practice games before it can accomplish this. If humans needed millions of iterations in order to learn something, we would have all been dead before we had learned anything! How is it, then, that we humans can learn something in 10 iterations where it takes a robot millions of iterations? Neuroscientists currently have no plausible explanation as to why the brain can learn as fast as it does.
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As a professor, I encounter students who are interesting in optimizing their learning, similar to the computer scientists who optimize their neural networks. What is important and should be learned first? What is not important and should be learned later? How can we know for sure the best way to learn when even the best scientists in the world can’t explain how we learn?
As humans, our minds get cluttered with the busyness and stresses of life. Often times we allow that clutter to prevent our learning from taking place. The truth is that it is not the clutter that prevents our learning, but it is the clutter that prevents us from starting.
Part of the clutter is how we analyze and critique ourselves. We can try to figure out if we are living in the most effective and efficient way, but this type of thinking rarely produces the results that we want.
B ack when I was in university, I had a friend who owned a business that catered to some of the famous athletes and politicians in my city. Being curious about how I could become successful like him, he offered me lots of advice, but one thing he said repeatedly was this:
“I think Nike has the best slogan in all of business. Just do it. Every other company changes their slogan every few years because nothing really makes sense.”
I remember him getting often frustrated that Just Do It generated revenue for Nike, even though it could be used in so many different aspects of life beyond athletics.
My friend was aware of something that inhibits all of our successes: inaction. In either business or learning, inaction is the only thing that will guarantee failure. As a business man, he knew the things that needed to be done in order to be successful. As an educator, I am aware of the fact that the mind can make connections and adapt to situations and learn in situations beyond what we think we it can, far beyond what science can explain. I know that many students are looking for a better way of studying, which is probably why you are reading this article right now. The key to our success—in either our English journey, or in our financial success in the future—is that our critical self-talk needs to stop and the doing needs to start.
So don’t think about it—just do it. Don’t talk about it—just do it. No matter how much or little time you want to invest in English, right or wrong words you choose to use, effective or ineffective methods of study that you want to try—calm your mind, focus, and… just do it.
Wesorick Micheal Andrew