Ordinary People Make Themselves Smart

This week we wanted to share some videos that show ordinary people making themselves smarter through following the right techniques. At TSM we have always maintained that the ability to master material, as well as qualities like intelligence and memory, are skills we develop through practicing right things repeatedly and not innate gifts that a person either has or doesn’t have (see our earlier posts here and here and here.)

Many ordinary people are now proving that this is true in some amazing ways. Here are three videos that all revolve around the theme that we can actually rewire our brains to become smarter through following certain ancient and modern techniques of memory and learning.

Learning is Quicker Than You Think…If You Do it Right

Josh Kaufman

In this fascinating TED Talk, best-selling author Josh Kaufman describes (and demonstrates) how he brought himself up to performance standard on the ukulele with only 20 hours of practice. He did this by following certain techniques that apply to anyone trying to learn material or develop a new skill.

Kaufman argues that oft-quoted “10,000 hour rule” obscures the reality that we can all learn things much quicker than we often think…provided we do it right.

One of the valuable things about this video is that Kaufman has a helpful discussion about some of the psychological and emotional barriers to learning that often hold students back from achieving success. He also shows how a person can save time, energy and effort time by deliberately learning material in a strategic way.

Here’s the video:

Give Your Brain What it Wants

Another video on a similar theme comes from the Swedish memory champion, Idriz Zogaj.

Idriz was just an ordinary person who decided to start remembering information in a way that worked with the natural wiring of his brain instead of against it. He explains how most students end up studying too much because they don’t know how to translate information into a form their brain will find memorable. By learning to give your brain what it wants, a student can form strong connections in the brain and then have time to rest or spend with family. (Some of the techniques he describes are elaborated on in more detail in the video we posted a couple years ago from Joshua Foer.)

How To Make Yourself Smarter

In this final video, science journalist Dan Hurley explains how he read that anyone can make themselves smarter by following certain techniques. He decided to put it to the rest and began incorporating into his life numerous strategies for improving his brain. The result of his experiments is that he really did get smarter in measurable ways. The insights Hurley shares should be encouraging to all of us. If you’re a college student preparing for an exam, a retired person trying to learn a new instrument, or a psychology student preparing to take the EPPP, you can train your brain to become smarter.

Further Reading

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