Things Take as Long as They Take

My friend Darryl has been a meditation teacher for about ten years (besides being a medical doctor), and he told me a lovely story recently. A version of this story follows, which I have copied from here: A Buddhist monk approached his teacher and asked the Zen Master, “If I meditate very diligently, how long … Read more

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Learning

People tend to be biased when assessing their own abilities; this bias is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Studies show that the poorer the ability, the greater the difference between one’s overestimate of one’s ability and one’s actual ability. One manifestation of this phenomenon is that people who know nothing about a subject and then learn … Read more

How to Concentrate

Concentration is a key skill for becoming a good learner. This is especially true in studying mathematics and physics, where you are continually engaging with new concepts. You also frequently have to mobilize all of your thinking power to grapple with complex problem-solving tasks. This often takes time, so you need to sustain your focused … Read more


Daily practice is essential for learning. Right now I am beginning to learn how to play the piano, which is an interesting experience for me as a teacher. It’s quite fun to be an absolute beginner at something, and experience all the joys and frustrations that come with learning something new. As an absolute piano … Read more

Should Learning be Fun?

I recall reading about a calculus teacher who taught in a gorilla suit one day to make his class more entertaining. This was lauded by some as a good thing. It is absolutely not a good thing! The unintended message is that calculus is so intrinsically boring that clowning around is needed to make it … Read more

Concentrate to Learn

We must concentrate to learn effectively, a point that I have experienced numerous times in my life. The myth of multi-tasking has been thoroughly debunked by now (for example, see here), but nevertheless many of us try to learn things while trying to do something else. This is ineffective and just ends up causing stress. … Read more

Effective Learners Work Daily

The main purpose of this web site is to help students learn about mathematics and physics, and in particular to provide guidance in how to approach your studies in a professional and effective way. I’ll be posting every week on these topics, and will also be regularly uploading various learning materials. But if there is … Read more