#35 Learning

What is it?

If it isn't obvious by now, I use Twitter as a notepad. Then, I'll transfer whatever sticks to here, video, or both.

It's been months since Dr. Todd Snyder delivered his CCA graduate presentation. I've been thinking a lot about intelligence since. Intelligence, learning, and the relationship between the two.

Todd is a practicing psychologist. He shared some of his observations from his practice. Many people that test well don't know how to get what they want. Others that test poorly are often able to get what they want.

Dr. Snyder's graduate presentation asked a simple question: "What is intelligence?"

The short version:

The ability to get what you want.

The ability to get what you want.

If it increases your ability to get the outcomes you want it has increased your intelligence. If it fills your head with facts without increasing your ability to get what you want it hasn't.

There are many factors that could contribute to whether something increases your intelligence:

  • Being clear on what you want is more likely to increase your intelligence.

  • An orientation toward validity over utility can decrease intelligence. Being "right" or winning arguments often divorces validity and utility.

  • Contact with reality (school of hard knocks) is likely to increase intelligence. Moreso than acquiring knowledge strictly in a classroom. There's a whole rant on that here:

So, if intelligence is the ability to get what you want, what is learning?

I think of learning as behavior that increases or upgrades your intelligence.

Said another way:

Learning is modifying your behavior based on new information, to get what you want.

Said ANOTHER way:

Same circumstance, different behavior.

Same circumstance, same behavior means you haven't learned anything.

If learning is upgrading your ability to get what you want, then learning a thing is different than knowing about a thing.

It's possible to know about a thing without increasing your ability to get what you want.

It's also possible to increase your intelligence without knowing a thing. (A kid that wants to ride a bike can learn how to ride a bike without knowing the various theorems of aerodynamics)

In my own endeavors, I often ask myself:

"Am I learning or am I stuffing my head full of stuff to know?"

If the answer is not clear, I can ask a simpler question:

"Has my behavior changed in a way that is getting me closer to what matters to me?"

Oftentimes, it hasn't. To me, that's a sign that it's time to put away the books and get to work.

Just sharing what I have found useful for myself.

Hopefully, it's useful to you


PS. Here is Dr. Todd Synder's CCA graduate presentation:

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