Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Learning Means... um...

An interesting essay by Alex Krupp is worth a read.
Merriam-Webster defines learning as "gaining knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience."

Unfortunately, this definition is non-actionable. As such, I'd like to propose a new working definition

You've learned something if you can answer a question that you could not have answered previously.

Before we proceed, a couple of caveats. First, this model only works for cognitive learning. That means things like muscle memory are out. Second, this model treats actions as implicit questions. For example, if we learn how to drive a nail then we've answered the implicit question "How do I use a hammer?"

I've challenged several people to find an example that breaks my model. So far no one has succeeded. Even if there is some corner case that breaks the model, I think it's pretty safe to say that it holds for 99 and 44/100% of cases.

The implications here are huge. I'll start with books and blogging, and then I'll tackle school and entrepreneurship.

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