How Ultralearning helps you learn faster, better and remember more?

The book Ultralearning by Scott H. Young on a wooden surface.

Summary

The premise of the book is that one can learn vast amounts, and master subjects reputed difficult through intense practice. The book presents some of the principles, tools and techniques to achieve this. It is written in an accessible style and is well-paced.

What I liked about the book

Overall, I believe the value of ultralearning comes from the fact that in an increasing number of positions, people need to be able to learn and adapt. Therefore, one could argue that the capacity to learn and adapt is essential to stay relevant, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. In addition, in a world increasingly flooded with information, the ability to prioritize what one needs to know seem an obviously beneficial skill to have.

What I liked less

The first chapter is a collection of anecdotes about a number of ‘ultra learners’. While the chapter is entertaining, to me, it mostly illustrates the massive heterogeneity of this new category. And this is what makes it difficult for me to recognize it as a category: it has low coherence.

How does it relate to other books I have read?

Ultralearning came back front of mind recently because I was reading The Craft of College Teaching by Robert DiYanni and Anton Borst, which is structured like an how-to for various part of a university-level course. There is some overlap between the two books despite their apparently very different audiences.

What did it make me want to read next?

The book made me read a number of scientific articles on various aspect of learning. I was particularly interested in how memory works.

Conclusion

While the book is quite entertaining and pretty good at relying on scientific evidence for the claims made, I found the over reliance on anecdotes at the beginning of each chapter unnecessary.

Endnotes

  1. FHEA stands for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. This is a certification that is required in most UK Universities as part of a lecturer’s probation.

References

Hout, M. Social and Economic Returns to College Education in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology 38:1, 379–400 (2012).

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Antoine Vernet

Antoine Vernet

I write about tips and tricks for students and professors. I also write about cool social science, old and new. I am an associate professor at UCL.