047 The Bucket Theory of Mind & How We Learn
Here's the weekly Amazing Things & Ideas newsletter. Find one original idea from my side followed by the Amazing Things & Ideas List.
The Bucket Theory of Mind & How We Learn
The mind isn’t a bucket in which you pour in information (water) and the mind magically retains that information as knowledge.
The generic view of learning is exactly this. Which essentially leads to kids behaving like this:
What’s actually happening when a person is learning is that the person is creating the knowledge, that’s right, creating the knowledge inside their mind. Adopting an idea takes creation of that idea into your mind. That’s different from (mistakenly) assuming that knowledge is absorbed through our senses or through thoroughly reading and mugging up a chapter or in the sense of the kid above through scooping words as if they were ice-cream into the brain instead of the mouth and thinking you’ll still get the taste.
The bucket theory of mind is incorrect.
The mind is actively thinking of the idea that is being fed into consciousness (in whatever way) and then it is examining it according to the knowledge that already exists in the mind. Then the idea gets criticized through that mind’s lens. If the new idea wins, it gets a place in the mind in the form of knowledge. And it’s important to realize that an idea isn’t copy/pasted from one brain to the other—there are interpretations of certain ideas. The same idea is almost never in the mind of two people. There may exist implicit or inexplicit differences in the explicit understanding of an idea.
Learning is an act of creation. Not memorization. It is not like pouring water into a bucket. We must stop treating it as though that is the case.
The Amazing Things & Ideas List
A book on the meaning of life from the lens of death (possibly the best memoir I’ve ever read):
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I don’t want to say anything about the book or my experience reading it. Just that it might be the best memoir I’ve ever read and it would be unfortunate for anyone to miss and not get to experience such a deep literary work.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes extracted from the book:
“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”
Struggle toward the capital-T Truth, but recognize that the task is impossible—or that if a correct answer is possible, verification certainly is impossible.
In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And truth comes somewhere above all of them…
“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
Please read the book.
“Legacy, what is a legacy?
It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see”
— Lin- Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
A post from my blog this week:
“Why evolutionary psychology explanations are pleasing and what they get wrong”
Read the post here.
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Thank you for reading.