There are actually two different ways of learning:
1. First-Hand-Learning: This is the most basic way our brain can aquire information. It is achieved by trying something and evaluating the Outcome. If your action results in something pleasant, your mind will tell you to keep doing them. If it causes some sort of pain or an unpleasant experience, you respond by developing a fear and avoiding it from now on. This process happens mainly unconsciously, you don’t actively need to think about it because it is governed by the ancient, reptile part of the brain which is mainly ruled by instincts. You can call it Learning By Doing or Practical Learning.
2. Second-Hand-Learning: This form of learning, when looking at the huge time span organisms exists on this planet, has just recently evolved. It describes the process of imitating (lower form of consciousness) or learning from the knowledge or opinions from other persons.(higher form of consciousness) You don’t need to touch the hot boiler to know it will hurt. Your mother has probably told you all your life to stay away from that damn thing. Remembering something that has been learned by Second Hand Learning requires an conscious effort, because the prefrontal cortex of our brains is involved. Second-Hand-Learning is also referred to as Social Conditoning.
How to learn correctly
Practical Learning is way more effective then Second-Hand-Learning. Thats for example the reason why you are afraid of visiting the dentist, even though you know from other people including the doctor, that you are doing something good for your teeth. But then from the back ouf your Unconsciosness crawls this memory of a painfull visit, overlapping all the things you learned b second hand.
Every physical exercise requires First-Hand-Learning to get good in it. If you are a sane person you will most likely not read a book on how to swim and then just dive into the ocean. Learning something requires repitition and practical learning because it takes time for new synapses to form between nerve cells. Only actually practicing will trigger this. You probably remember what happened when you thought you would pass the maths exams just by reading the book …
We now know that practical learning is more effective then theoretical learning. So lets talk about Social Conditioning.
Why do we even need it?
Second-Hand-Learning/Social Conditioning is extremly usefull along side with practical learning. It makes the actual learning process easier because you can avoid mistakes on a very basic level. Since the “reptile” part of our brain is on a fundemental level very simple structured, its main tool for gathering knowledge is Trial and Error. If you can avoid the most basic errors through Social Conditioning that only leaves so many options left you need to try and therefore makes mastering something quicker.
BUT: Learning something out of a book or the internet without practicing it (first-hand-learning) is absolute useless, its essentially a waste of time and energy.
Second Hand Learning is a tool that supports the learning curve and something that can accelerate your progress. But it doesn’t work by itself. Learning effectively requires you to practice alot and support the expirience you gained by second-hand-learning.
I hope you enjoyed this article, My next topic will be about the origin of social anxiety.