Learning About Learning in Ultralearning

Learning as a skill is incredibly helpful, and being able to learn at a very high level can mean the difference between being a dabbler and a doer. Check out some of my notes from Ultralearning, by Scott Young


Pretty exciting to follow Scott Young on his cool book Ultralearning.

Seriously, made me reconsider how I approach all projects that I do. Including the one I’m currently on, which I would affectionately call my 100 book challenge.


Well there’s a lot of things about this book that I don’t necessarily agree with, I think that the practical nature the practice , of this book  any reader regardless of skill level in any project that they find themselves in.

Where I do find that Scott young falls short is in his understanding of learning, from a psychological basis. In psychology learning is a really difficult thing to measure. So learning has kind of been defined to a change of behavior. Psychologists and scientists can determine whether learning has occurred if behavior has changed. This point is entirely missed by Scott Young, and I think not using a psychological definition of learning underminds a lot of the work that he’s doing in this book.

So ultimately, Scott Young’s book is describing how to learn, or change your behavior, at a very aggressive rate. Other than that, there’s nothing else that I would add or detract from the book. It was a great read through, lots of fun examples and exercises, and useful to anyone who takes self-education seriously.

You can find my bullet notes below:

Alixander’s Bullet Journal Notes

These are my bullet journal notes from Ultralearning, by Scott Young

There are three kinds of learning: low-intensity habits, formal learning, and ultra learning

  • There seems to be a subset of learners who take on the task of learning at a super accelerated rate.
  • Barring genius, these learners rigorously test their limits by making learning an active process.
  • There is a valid need to adopt ultra learning:
    • Specialization can easily be disrupted in the market space
      • Solution: learn new stuff fast
  • Answer these questions when starting out:
    • Why am I learning X
      • Is this subject instrumental value (ie increases my marketability to employers)
      • Is it intrinsic (ie make me happy to do it or brings me value knowing I can)
    • What am I going to learn about X
      • What concepts am I going to learn, or have learned
      • What facts am I going to learn, or have learned
      • What procedures am I going to learn, or have learned
    • How am I going to learn about X
      • Seek scaffolds, like online syllabuses
      • Seek mentors who have done it before, or something like what you are trying to accomplish
  • Focus: initiate, maintain, and optimize
  • Direct or “hands on learning” is best
  • Drills are what make the fundamentals stick
  • Retrieval Testing is how you solidify knowledge
    • SRS (spaced repetition software)
    • Concept Mapping
    • Retrieval quizzing
  • Feedback can lead to a greater level of learning
    • Self-assessment feedback is how did I do
    • Corrective feedback is choose the right answer from many
    • Information feedback is fill in the blank
    • Object feedback is pass/fail
  • Remembering
    • SRS
    • Proceduralization
    • Over-learning
    • Mnemonics
  • Intuition
    • Come up with examples
    • Start from the beginning like you don’t know
    • Try to make it concrete by making real the concept
      • The Feynman Technique
  • Experiment
    • Meta-learning
    • Aggressive experimentation
      • learn from diverse realms
      • Drill down to learn more
      • Try different styles
    • Adopt a growth mindset
      • Copy (ie recreate another artist)
      • Compare (ie compare your work to theirs)
      • Constraint (ie try it again with your other hand)
      • Consistency (ie do it again and again and again)
  • How to do an ultralearning project
    • Do research
      • Topic & Scope
      • Primary Sources
      • Benchmarking
      • Direct Practice
    • Schedule Time
      • How much time
      • When (consistency)
      • Length of time
      • Pilot week (trial run)
    • Execute
      • Metalearning
      • Focus
      • Directness
      • Drill
      • Retrieval
      • Feedback
      • Retention
      • Intuition
      • Experimentation
    • Review results in the end
    • Maintain or master

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