Exponential Learning

Here’s one of the worst-kept secrets around: when you learn with others, everyone learns more. Yes, it sounds basic but it’s pretty profound.

When you learn by yourself, it’s all in your head. Anything you take away from the class or book is a conversation you have with yourself. All the thoughts, ideas, ruminating, and problem-solving is created by you and consumed by you.

But when you learn with someone else, each of you takes away different things. By doing it with someone else, the conversations become two-way, and guess what? Each of you learns something new. You open each other’s eyes to different thoughts, ideas, ruminating, and problem-solving. Things that your brain either can’t come up with or just didn’t at that moment in time. And through that exchange, what you learn is at least doubled.

But wait, there’s more. Through the automatic mental activity of organizing and articulating your thoughts, your brain starts to discover new things, patterns, and ideas. Some of those are purely reflections that you sock away and others are quickly integrated into what you say at that moment.

Now add more people to the process and it’s easy to see how the learning becomes exponential.

exponential learning

It’s why the flipped classroom has increasingly gained traction at all levels of education. It’s why MOOCs really won’t take over higher education (but something else will). It’s why students today get bored so easily with old-school teachers. It’s why the education of the future will be more about wisdom than knowledge.

That future will take advantage of the fact that human beings are social creatures, that we use a fraction of our brain power, and that we have so much to learn from each other.