I've been toying with the idea of creating a 10-day cycle of themed days.

( Why not weekly? I suspect the slight inconvenience of misaligned calendars keeps concerns clearly separate and prevents practices from collecting unrelated cultural baggage. )

I took a mini-sabbath yesterday, effectively themed "Slack". Today, I experimentally theme "Learning". Not in the sense of academic literacy, but in the curious, experiential sense of looking at the world and finding the patterns in it.

It isn't possible to produce an accurate map of a city while sitting in your living room with your eyes closed, thinking pleasant thoughts about what you wish the city was like. You have to go out, walk through the city, and write lines on paper that correspond to what you see. - EY, Outside the Laboratory

(Edit) As of yet, I have no concrete ideas on what to positively do on learnday. We will need that part eventually. To begin with, though, you can at least avoid getting in the way of someone achieving their goals.

Things that block learning (1)

  • Planned Lessons.

    • You can benefit from structured exploration of a topic, but you may not notice when you start rehearsing facts or mantras instead of looking at the world.

  • Developing a Takeaway or Aesop.

    • Post-mortems and other methods of crystallizing insights can considerably strengthen your learning, but you might decide your conclusion prematurely and bias your exploration to fit its framing.

  • Logging information (2).

    • You can make important, strong generalizations from aggregate data, but you may instead practice collecting and classifying things instead of seeing them.

  • Accepting shame or guilt. Learnday does not permit harming yourself or allowing others to harm you (3).

    • You can find inspiration or motivation within a social context, but you may stifle your curiosity in favor of what you "should" study or avoid making learner's mistakes.

  • Doing the same thing you did last Learnday.

    • (Edit) You can discover new things from repeated exposure, or you might dampen your curiosity. You can think more clearly for working in a calm and familiar context, or you may bias your exposure to lead to forgone conclusions.

(1) Notice the examples' formulations of A can do X but it might do Y instead. When people try to talk about distributions in natural language, particularly non-normal and skewed distributions, their descriptions wind up looking like this. Everyday language butchers mathematical nuance. When you and your friends luck out with sharing a common notation for speaking precisely about distributions and uncertainty over them, treasure it.

(2) I want to distinguish keeping a log from using external attention aids. Attention aids help you organize the here and now—Writing to puzzle out or sharpen your thoughts, drawing details of a scene as they pop out to you, laying your process out on a white board, taking a measurement to clarify vague impressions, setting timers to compensate for time sense, etc. If you object, for reasons other than nostalgia or future brain reconstruction, to burning everything you wrote on learnday, you may have taken logs.

(3) If you can, delay necessary social consequences for at least the duration of learnday. You do not similarly delay self-flagellation over things you did on or in preparation for learnday, that counts as harming yourself in the context of learnday.

What would you add?


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( Why not weekly? I suspect the slight inconvenience of misaligned calendars keeps concerns clearly separate and prevents practices from collecting unrelated cultural baggage. )

This by itself is a nice insight, for most similar things you might run into.

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