My dog and his human

This is how he sleeps. With five pillows.

I use one. R uses three. I’ve always been on her case for using three pillows.

The boy has learnt from her, and then left her behind.

Then there’s me.

I’m not allowed, by R, to put dishes in the dishwasher. She has her method of placing the dishes, and I apparently mess it up.

I’ve been trained to rinse the dishes and place them on the kitchen top above the dishwasher. She puts them in later.

Last night I cleared the sink after dinner and placed the dishes above the dishwasher. Took me a moment to realise that she’s been in India for a couple of days, and I am allowed to put the dishes in while she’s away. My training has been thorough.

To confuse the anthropomorphizing further, my dog learns better than me, while I’m trained better than him!

Duolingo + Range—Learning with interleaving

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Interleaving—6 active skills + random test button

David Epstein’s book Range educated me on the value of interleaving and spacing for better learning. (Chapter: Learning fast and slow)

One of the places I immediately applied it is in my daily Spanish lessons on Duolingo.

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Block learning—completing one skill from start to finish before proceeding to the next.

Previously I used to start with one skill in Duolingo, say present perfect, and then complete it from start to finish. I only moved to the next skill once the previous skill was golden, or on the rare occasion when I gave up on it for being too hard.

The screen looked like the one on the left: all golds above the current skill.

Now I have six skills in progress at the same time. Every day I complete just one test from at least three of them. The next day I start with the other three. If I want to practice more, I use the dumbbell button in the bottom right—it tests me randomly from any of the dozens of skills I have already completed.

This mixing provides me with a bit of range. Each test daily is from a different skill; any skill reappears only after 48 hours; forcing me to remember, forcing more mistakes, and, hopefully, resulting in better learning.

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Typing speed hypothesis

Hypothesis:

Typing speed increases if there’s no feedback from the input (looking at keyboard) and output (looking at the screen).¶

I’ve been taking book notes of recently read books. While taking notes I realised that I type fastest when I look at neither the screen nor the keyboard.

When looking at just the book, I let my muscle memory (training) take over and get the fastest typing speed. There are a few errors—typos—but the writing speed makes up for them.

Looking at the screen is the next fastest mode of typing. It is probably slower when I’m copying text from the book since I have to constantly switch between the two, specially because I have to locate the cursor in the book every time. It is also slower because any typos are apparent immediately and create a dissonance hurdle in the brain, slowing it down.

Looking at the keyboard while typing is the slowest. The brain skips a lot of the muscle memory, or tries to reconfirm it, and tries to look for keys before typing. It may cause the least mistakes but is really, really slow.

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TIL: What is ‘1 + 1 =’

Soham asked us this question yesterday. He wanted four answers.

Everyone got two immediately: 2 & 11.

I gave him one that he didn’t know: 3.

He gave us two we couldn’t have figured out: Window, 6.

These three answers – 3, 6 and window – are why I love spending time with him when he’s not playing a video game.

Continue reading TIL: What is ‘1 + 1 =’

Importance of learning languages…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of learning multiple languages in this changing world. My post was in the context of the disruption in white collar careers that improvements AI will bring.

Seems like a few other sharp minds have been thinking on the same lines. Here’s a post in the Financial Times discussing research on similar lines, but addressing impact of disruption by Brexit. Here’s their list of languages, though I recommend you read the full post:

Top 10 languages for Brexit Britain
Top 10 languages for Brexit Britain

Swim Class

Happy with the last few swims after today’s class. Finally starting to breathe every 3rd stroke. Did feel better, faster that way too.

Also learnt that my backstroke needs more work. Core muscles are weak and cause me to flip bit to much.

It helped that there were just 3 of us for the class today. Got proper attention finally :)

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