26 August 2014


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.


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.
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.


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.

Another MOOC learner has created a Hall Of Fame for in which to collect these final projects. If you're at all interested in Learning How To Learn or want to know more about various learning concepts, definitely go check it out here.


  1. Great idea Jessica, learning by poems! Your "advise-poems" are easy to read and make the course's points very clear. I feel like the poem-way of dealing with pieces of information makes the material feel softer, the facts seem less sharp. Again, great idea... I should give this a try! :)

    1. Thank you! I often find that using my creative outlet helps to deepen my understanding of a topic, even one that appears entirely intellectual or un-creative.

  2. Hi Jessica,beautiful poetry expression of good learning techniques.I love your simplicity and creativity.well done

  3. I certainly agree to some points that you have discussed on this post. I appreciate that you have shared some reliable tips on this review.