In a lecture at The Yorkshire Post’s Innovation Summit, Dr Michael Bratt, lecturer in sports science at Leeds Beckett University, and author of the book ‘Fast Learners’ explained how being a fast learner doesn’t have to be about being able to master new things overnight, but instead about being receptive to new ideas. Here, in his own words, he shares some of the qualities needed to develop into a high-performing learner.
“There is a huge amount of useful knowledge out there and many people need only glance at the internet to access it. However, the thing that most people miss out on is the fact that a lot of this knowledge isn’t necessarily relevant to their life. They might not have time to read ten books about a topic, but they might actually know how to use some of these principles that we are describing.
“You can take a particular situation, like playing golf, and there are different rules to this game that apply to your ability as a golfer. One of these is that you should be able to keep a scorecard. But many people who are able to make good progress in the game are able to do this in a way that doesn’t provide the satisfaction that it should. In other words, they can perform the same task, but without the necessary satisfaction of being able to say ‘I have done the task correctly’. There is an interesting study that took place in the US where it was found that when participants were shown a monitor that was showing the number of holes they had played and when they then played the same hole in the back garden or in their garage, they were less likely to show up when this monitor showed up in front of them in the future. They weren’t taking more initiative when they were with people they knew, and that made it much more difficult for them to maintain good results.”
“This kind of behaviour doesn’t help the evolution of the game. Being a fast learner is not about learning a new task in an hour or two and then moving on to the next one. It’s about being willing to retain some learning in order to reach new levels and accomplish new things. In terms of sport, this relates to not becoming disheartened after doing something that doesn’t come easily. It’s about not getting emotionally caught up in difficulties and instead seeing the challenge as a way to improve your playing ability.
“If we are dealing with high-level learners in our school system, then having an environment that allows them to reflect on their learning is important. People who are truly fast learners have the capability of regularly practising these different aspects of life and they are also able to recognise the principle of the principle and they are able to transform something into the effective practice that they require.”
Dr Bratt, who lectures at the University’s school of Health and Life Sciences, also revealed five qualities that will help you be a fast learner.
1. Surround yourself with people who are willing to challenge you. Don’t try to take on this challenge by yourself.
2. Value the experience of failure and never allow this to stop you from giving your best.
3. Don’t do everything by yourself.
4. Don’t be afraid to fail. A lot of people aren’t aware of this but a lot of people are actually afraid of failure. Failure is actually an important indicator of how far you’ve come.
5. Enjoy learning and savour the success that comes with learning.