Meta Learning it is about humans…honest!

So I saw an article about the Tim Ferris book 4 Hour Chef in the newspaper, the book uses cooking is as a way to understand “meta learning”.  A guy called John Biggs (1985) is credited with creating and defining the concept of metalearning. His conception is framed around the idea of ‘being aware of and taking control of one’s own learning.’  So why is this actually interesting?  Well as an old munki I’m learning a lot of new things at the moment. Mainly BJJ and strength and conditioning related. This process is supposed to help you learn how to learn better. For me that sounds awesome!  I don’t know about you but I’ve sat in class and been mentally stunned by what I was supposed to grasp. It has previously taken a while for new stuff to sink into this old brain.

BUT having read a few papers on metalearning, I have realised it was because I was not trying to learn properly.  EUREKA!!  I was previously just trying to either read and re read it into my brain.  Or just practise till it kind of stuck.  So if I am able to apply the suggested processes and remain self aware about how effective it is being, my learning could improve.  This means there is a good chance this will improve not only my BJJ game, but the other sciencey strength and conditioning stuff I’ve been doing.

The process roughly revolves around the below cycle:


Activities such as planning how to approach a given task, monitoring understanding and learning needs and evaluating progress towards completion of the task or modifying the task as additional factors emerge, are the main basis of the process.  Until you are able to ultimately finds what actually works for you.  I know this all sounds a little geeky and I should just get on with the job.  But I have also been listening to the On the Mat Radio podcast about Gianni Grippo (podcast here).  In it he mentions how he needs to structure his learning and this is something he got from the Mendes Brothers.  They focus on specifics and drill and understand a technique across a month.

So it does look like there is a good opportunity here to help my learning and understanding. I’m definitely going to start structuring my learning now, as having thought about this more and more over the last few days.  It does really apply to me.  I have tried just reading and watching stuff, but it does not sink in.  But when I think about it and understand how it works and I’m able to “explain” it to myself or someone else, then I have it. I’ll keep you updated in time to how this has been working.

If you want to have a look at this for yourself here are some resources that I’ll be using and the papers I’ve read:

Developing the Concept of metalearning

Enacting metalearning (This is a study on 10 students)

Exploring the Concept of Metalearning

Metalearning Resources


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