The act of guessing, failure and pre-testing first.

3 Feb

Testing is studying of a different and powerful kind, its one that should be deployed sooner, rather than later. Testing is now seen as an important feedback loop in the Continuous Integration process.


Recently, i picked up a book called “How we learn” by Benedict Cary, I made a few notes and here are some that stuck out…

A test is not only a measurement tool, it alters what we remember and changes how we subsequently organize that knowledge in our minds. And it does so in ways, that greatly improves performance.

Minecraft is more popular than I can believe2

When it comes to learning, testing is better than learning. From watching kids obsession with Minecraft and how learning is engaging, fun, challenging with the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence, it makes my old school reports seem a bit funnier to read.

Through simulation, you can test without even being aware its being done, students in Singapore can be assessed in the class room VIA Twitter and predictive analysis tools.

Also, simulation software testing is fair, the software doesn’t know your gender, sexual preference, if your black, white, Jewish or Christian, you could get hired for a job or accepted for a course, purely based on the result of a game that tests your ability solely.

On some kinds of tests, particularly multiple choice, we learn from choosing incorrectly, especially when you are given the correct answer afterwards. It makes sense, you first get a bad accountant, then you will end up with a good one, the same can be said for many things in life.

Simulation for pilotsplane

Also, making an incorrect choice in a simulation is a lot cheaper that making an incorrect choice at fifty thousand feet.

The act of guessing engages your mind in a different way that straight memorization does.


Depending on the imprint of the correct answers, the pretest drove home the information in a way the studying as-usual did not.

Introducing Winston Churchill1

At the age of twelve, Winston encountered his first examinations.  Unfortunately, the examiners were less accommodating and chose subjects he found dull, resulting in poor results.  His attempted entrance into Harrow was a complete disaster.  After writing his name and depositing a few blotches and smudges, he could only stare at the otherwise empty paper since Latin was totally alien to him.

Perhaps his latent Latin was known to the Harrow Headmaster, Reverend Welldon, who decided to give Winston a chance. Welldon was subsequently credited with vision but at the time he was severely criticized and accused of gross favouritism.

Perhaps the truth was that Winstons father being at the summit of national politics, Welldon preferred to avoid the embarrassment of rejecting his son. Yet Harrow historians have declared that not even Lord Randolph’s son could have been admitted at that time knowing no Latin.

Pre-testing primes students to notice important concepts later, failure had the crucial effect of making young Winston realize that failure was something to be overcome and not to be crushed by and primed him to learn in a big way

Exercise, priming your brain for learning

18 Jan

The nine types of intelligence9-types-of-intelligence-infographic

I found a great YouTube channel today called “What I’ve learned“, the guy only has 14 videos, and I have watched some of them up to four times. I haven’t been this excited since hearing about Casey Neistat while talking to an Architect in Bulgaria over the summer, but that’s another story…

The video I have been watching the most today is about the benefits of exercise on the brain. It would appear…

The only reason we have a brain is to produce adaptable and complex movements.

The type of intelligence is called “Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)”, in one of Ken Robbinsons talks, he said that since you only have one body, why is this type of intelligence not appreciated more? Why are engineers valued more than dancers?

Ken Robbinson

The single best thing you can do for yourself is exercise, for many reasons. I think of it as a good financial investment and I do it every day. Its as good as money in the bank, to me.

You might not lose any weight, but you will increase bone density, which is one of the main benefits of exercise.

If there was a drug that could give you the benefits of exercise, it would be the most important drug invented

Introducing Daniel Wolpert

Exercising for 20 minutes increases Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF, a protein that, in humans. BDNF is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors, which are related to the canonical Nerve Growth Factor.

BDNF is like miracle grow for your brain, which enables you to learn efficently.

Some ways To Increase BDNF Level:

  1. Intense Exercise
  2. Intermittent Fasting or Caloric Restriction
  3. Dietary modifications, limiting sugars
  4. Sunlight (Vitamin D)
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids and Green tea


Movement is a signal to your brain that something important is going to happen.


By exercising, you trigger the flight or fight in your body, then…

  • Cortisol is produced
  • Digestion is switched off
  • Heart rate shoots up

After exercising, Cortisol comes down, and stays down for the rest of the day.

Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar (glucose) and fat for energy (metabolism), and it helps the body manage stress. Cortisol levels can be affected by many conditions, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury.

Normally, cortisol levels rise during the early morning hours and are highest about 7 a.m. They drop very low in the evening and during the early phase of sleep.

Your brain power goes down once you stop complex movements, the video explains if you want to be mentally sharp, you can use your body to trigger your brain for the learning process.


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