Random thoughts on history, feeling stuck, and creativity

20th October 2017

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

This week, we’re into history and biography.  We’ve been reading (click here for more–including a picture of Barb with Santiago Ramony y Cajal’s death mask….)

Finding Truth in History

In keeping with this week’s historical motif, here’s a posting from the ever-thoughtful Farnam Street about finding truth in history.  We would add an old joke from our days working with the Soviets:  “The future is certain; it is only the past that is unpredictable.”

Discovering Your Hidden Potential

Tarcher-Perigee (Barb’s publisher) has started a great new blog on finding Career Clarity.  In this post, Barb describes some of her big leaps—how she did it, what she learned along the way, and the advice she has for others who are considering a major career shakeup. Follow the series if you’re interested in more career inspiration from other authors.

Video Gamers Are Faster Learners, Have Stronger Brains

Here’s information about an intriguing study which found that “individuals who regularly played video games also showed increased brain activity in areas associated with learning.”

Andrew Wiles on the State of Being Stuck

Here’s a great posting from Cal Newport’s “Study Hacks” Blog on accepting the state of being stuck.  (Cal is the author of one our favorite books on being productive: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.)

Cal’s  posting is centered around mathematics, but Barb feels it applies equally to her writing.  Sometimes Barb knows what she’s written doesn’t feel right—it isn’t good. So she rewrites it. Still no good. And again.  Days, even weeks, can go by where she’s reworking a section of a book, feeling stuck the entire time.  It’s almost as if she can feel the dissatisfied part of her brain working away under the hood, trying to eliminate the source of dissatisfaction even when she’s not physically writing. And then, mirabile dictu, it feels right!  The feeling of “ah—I’ve got it!” is very much like solving a difficult problem in math. This process relates to the background diffuse mode, working away to help provide our creative insights. And speaking of creativity:

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity: a Review of the MOOC

We often have pointers in our emails to different MOOCs, but we rarely lead you to reviews of MOOCs. That’s remedied this week with this review of the MOOC “Ignite Your Everyday Creativity,” by Pat Bowden on her blog Online Learning Success.  It’s nice to see that MOOC-taking itself can sometimes form a creative challenge.  (Stay tuned for Barb’s upcoming MOOC review of Idan Segev’s “Synapses, Neurons, and Brains.”)

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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