26 August 2014

Learning

I have been taking a class called Learning How To Learn." It's about different techniques that can make learning easier, including ways to avoid procrastination and tricks for memorizing things. It was offered by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski from the UC San Diego through Coursera. I have enjoyed the video lectures, short quizzes, and discussion forums. For the large assignment in the course, we are teaching others about what we learned. So I present to you three poems about learning.


The Focused and the Diffuse Modes of Learning

Learning needs focused thoughts:
intensity of new concepts.
Read and practice the problem.

Learning needs diffuse thoughts:
relaxed, creative solutions.
Put it to the back of your mind.

Learning needs both:
conscious and unconscious
working together,
making connections,
back and forth
to find the best results.

If you try too hard, you fail.
If you never concentrate, you fail.
If you can do both, you can be great.


Chunking

A chunk is a brick in a wall.
As you set each brick
and let the mortar dry,
you can stack up more.

A chunk is a link in a chain.
You can learn each concept,
link them together,
and make something to hold onto.

Sometimes, you learn the physical.
Foot here,
hand there,
eyes forward,
move feet,
learn into the turn.
Eventually, you ride the bike without thinking...too much.
You've linked the chain.

Sometimes, you learn the mental.
F is for force.
M is for mass.
A is for acceleration.
Newton is for physics.
f=ma
Eventually, you use the equation without thinking...too much.
You've built the wall.

With enough walls, you can make a building.
With enough chain links, you can make armor.
With enough equations, you can master physics.


Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates,
to make the negative feelings go away.
"That can wait another day;
for now I'd rather play."

But that only makes it worse,
with bigger problems
and bigger headaches.

Focus on the process.
Work on small parts,
just a little a day.

Focus for 25 minutes.
Work with a timer,
then five minutes of play.

Find a good place to work.
Limit the distractions,
best in a quiet place.

Cue, routine, reward, and belief.
Procrastination is all of these.
It's a habit that anyone can beat
with a little dedicated training.

Find the cue.
A text message perhaps?
Silence the thing.

Don't answer the phone;
just let it be.
Form a new routine.

The reward was the break.
It can wait
for the time relief.

To get the best results
with your new habits,
you must believe.

So don't procrastinate;
this habit can be beat.
You can find a better way
and have fewer worries.

01 August 2014

Overheard

He was hot... H.A.W.T.
     You're almost as tall as him.
That is not allowed,
I'm married.
I don't think we should be going to a bar.
     I tell you what,
     Go in for a practice round.
...
     No, you don't have to stop.
     That's the last thing you want to do.
Meet you on the other side.

I recorded a few lines while waiting in the airport security line, then rearranged them into a story. This is what I got.

28 July 2014

Secrets of Perseus

Indirectly searching
for the unobservable.
The majority is the abnormal,
viewable only from the side,
noticeable only from the pull.

Did you see it too?
Maybe it's really there.


Inspired by a recent news story about astronomical mysteries.

27 July 2014

Unexpectedly Alone

For a few moments,
I was post-apocalyptic.
In a place of many,
it was just me.

No one in the train.
No one in the hall.
No internet.
No cell phone.

Unexpectedly alone.

26 July 2014

Not Quite Right

The meter is just not right.
The rhymes are just not right.
And now I've rhymed
the same word twice.

Either too simple,
or too contrived.

The poem never feels quite right.

25 July 2014

Afternoon Rest

The tree leaned down
and said to me,
"The sun's quite bright today.
How about you sit in shade?"

The grass looked up
and said to me,
"Your feet seem quite tired.
How about you sit awhile?"

The breeze whispered
into my ear,
"It is quite hot just now.
How about I cool your face?"

Thank you, tall tree.
Thank you, soft grass.
Thank you, sweet breeze.
Same time tomorrow?

24 July 2014

Braid

Left to right,
right to left
Til all the hair is one.
Down the length
of your hair
Til the braid is done.