A firewall for your brain

Spaced repetition, part II

Can spaced repetition be indoctrination in disguise? If teachers are the ones defining what must be learned, then the quality criteria for what goes onto the flashcards must be high.

The choice of content should be constrained to the established foundations. The core vocabulary. To what is needed to talk a discipline’s language. The undisputed facts that are backed up by evidence. Everything else is beyond your license to teach. Remember, you are messing with your student’s brains. And students: you need a firewall.

Students need guidance to build the habit of efficient learning with spaced repetition. But they especially need their own license to learn with this method. This includes that they must decide what they want to imprint in their brain and commit to long-term memory. They must own their learning.

Students need to find their “why”. What is their reason for learning something? What is the relevance of the learning material? When might they need it, under which circumstances? Where could it be applied, in which contexts? Finding the why is challenging because it can capriciously hop around and play “fetch me!” The why can shape-shift.

If your why is – “I want to become a good engineer and have my own company” – this is your north star. It is not something your are constantly thinking about when writing flashcards. But knowing your why is important to align the practice of writing flashcards with who you want to become.

One card at a time you develop who you become. What goes onto a flashcard is therefore a more crucial decision than what I thought in the beginning.

Conclusion? Make sure you can trust the author of your flashcards. Better yet, be the creator of your own content.

Knowing your why is the firewall for what goes into your brain with this method.

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