Monday, July 03, 2006

Over-Your-Head Learning

"Crash course" - what images come up in your mind when you hear that phrase?

I ask because I recently realised that's how I've done most of my learning.

It kind of works. Kind of. Sooner or later you need to take a measured approach.

But to kick off the mind's metabolism and make you hungry for knowledge, there's nothing quite like over-your-head learning.

Here's how it works:
  1. What do you want to learn? It may be an industry you need to get familiar with very quickly ... for me it was healthcare when I did some work for a cord-blood bank. Or, on a more personal note, the filmmaking industry.
  2. Dive in. Find industry specific websites, read industry magazines, attend networking events just to watch, listen and learn. The important thing is to shut up and learn. Don't let your existing inklings get in the way in this initial stage. Suck in the new information like a vaccuum. Even when you don't understand it, which will be often.
  3. Pull back and assess. You probably have a whole heap of knowledge that doesn't yet make sense. Put it all out in front of you, metaphorically or physically. Start observing connections. Now's the time to start asking questions. Find people you trust, who don't look down on dilettantes or beginners, and who can give you straight, simple answers.
By the end of these three steps, you'll be surprised how much you actually know, particularly when you rub shoulders with those who have been educated the "proper" way.

As I disclaimed earlier, this won't get you all the way to where you want to be. But if you find you need to start somewhere, and that somewhere isn't the conventional "way in"... why not give it a try?


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