7 Obstacles In Efficient Learning


If you consume without putting anything back, then one day, you will see how all your work becomes the property of others.”

Silviu Vasile,” The secrets of speed reading”

The learning pyramid model encourages us to teach others as quickly as possible what we study ourselves: we retain 95% of what we apply or teach as soon as we learn. This idea is meritorious, but I have never encountered a presentation on how to do this optimally. Such an article would have been good for me in 2004 when I took my first steps in speed reading.

The story of my success in speed reading is presented in-depth here. This is not what I want to write about, but what I learned from my failures in speed reading as a trainer.

In neuro-linguistic programming, it is said that if someone can achieve a specific performance, then so can I if I am willing to make an effort and follow the right path to that goal. Therefore, if I have achieved a certain performance, so can others. However, what was valid for me was pretty RARELY valid for others. I should mention that getting 2-4 times the speed of speed reading is not a great success, but only a good start, in my opinion. I wondered why so few of my participants went beyond this increase. I found several answers, which I would like to share here.

On the one hand, more and more people are facing the anxiety of searching for information in an ocean of data and are faced with making decisions based on insufficient information, in fact seeking wisdom or discernment to help them sort those data. However, those who see this as a problem are getting fewer and fewer. On the other hand, few who are disturbed by the quality of the decisions made based on insufficient, incomplete, or incorrect information randomly found, are willing to invest strategic time to process the information better and faster. Why? They probably aren’t aware of how much this time costs them. It’s a pretty uncomfortable calculation.

Re-learning to learn is challenging. It means admitting that you do not really remember much of what you think you have learned; you do not succeed at first, you can also become aware of some other problems to solve and the prouder you are of your achievements so far, the more you move away from the achievements you might have in the future with a smarter effort. Again, rather uncomfortable.

I don’t like to admit when I make mistakes, especially as a trainer. I noticed that I can give wrong information (without realizing it) without being contradicted. Why? Because it reminds me that I’m not perfect and still have a lot to learn. Probably the same is considered by many of those who do not bother to learn something new and valuable from specialty books after finishing school. Probably the question: “why don’t you like to admit when you are wrong?” deserves a stand-alone.

We live in a world where it is easy for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and specialists with high positions in organizations to learn further in their field of expertise and to get their things right on the first try if they choose areas where they easily use their talents. However, more and more often and soon, these specialists also need variety, so they need to learn things that risk not being successful at the first attempt. I wonder if they dare to go on, knowing that he who doesn’t work doesn’t make mistakes. Do they have the wisdom to do this effectively? Some do. Many do not.

There is confusion between learning + understanding vs. development + performance. I feel that some of those who treat personal development as a hobby they enjoy in their spare reading time consider that these terms from the previous phrase, together with autonomy + exploration, are the same. Thus, according to such a vision, school is a serious matter, which gives you a diploma, based on which you can work, and out of curiosity, you also attend all kinds of seminars from which you get some ideas. So formal education is the main course, and informal education is the dessert.

The desire of the Romanians to learn is associated too much with school and obtaining the certainty of surviving the next day through a job conditioned by a degree. However, to do business, you do not need a degree. Instead, you need education and understanding. Education and experience can also be obtained without a degree. Of course, every child needs to explore the surrounding world and make their own observations about what they have understood in an environment where they are allowed to make mistakes until they learn what they need. However, personal development for performance is another story, at another level, built on the initial understanding. However, here’s the problem: formal education focuses too much on transmitting knowledge content (often stupid, useless, or poorly formulated) and less on developing competencies that can be used in several fields of study later in life for development. Therefore, knowledge is forgotten, understanding is not very useful (for example, for acceptance or independence), and exploration is discouraged. Let’s develop! With what? With the paper on which the degree is stamped?

Finally, suppose the young man or adult who has had a traumatic experience associated with the learning process wishes to excel. In that case, he should solve his limiting beliefs and vicious emotional circles and head for his planned goals with self-discipline, using appropriate exercises and techniques. A bit difficult if…

  • you were hit against the blackboard or publicly humiliated by a teacher

  • you were cruelly beaten by a parent or caregiver for getting a different grade than 10

  • you grew up with the idea that a small failure is a big shame on the family, so you are not allowed to make mistakes in the learning process

  • you had a model with unrealistic standards on the limits, rules, and successes that you must comply with

  • you were socially excluded from groups for your intelligence or persecuted if you dared to have different ideas than what is written in textbooks

  • you grew up in fear of failure

  • family members love you in a conditioned manner for the identity they think you must have until you die.

All of these leave an imprint on anyone’s ability to learn how to learn, and it is no wonder that more and more young people avoid books. It is a natural consequence of formal education, as I explained in my book,” What success in school (still) means”. You would think that once you have formal education, you don’t need the informal one anymore. The uncomfortable truth is that if you have good non-formal education that also includes creativity, speed reading, memorizing techniques, concentration, disciplined productivity, and learning by reproducing the success models correctly observed in others … you do not really need formal education anymore. I do not plan to enroll my children in “school” if I ever have children.

Finally, I have 2 questions that I invite you to meditate on:

  1. First, how much of what you use for your current development is what you learned in school and how much is the result of intellectual explorations in informal environments?

  2. Which of these is more valuable?

Thank you!

Happy, efficient learning!

Marcus Victor Grant

Speed-reading consultant and trainer (speed reading, memorization, concentration, productivity, NLP modeling)

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2016-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “După 18 ani de citire rapidă, scurt pe trei: 6 obstacole în învățarea eficientă“  published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the  on Discerne. Originally written in 2016. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. 

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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