Tag Archives: Adult Learners

Note taking tips – Notes matter

As I sit in business and board meetings, I notice that few people take notes.

Note taking as a path to success

I wonder if they have better memories than I do, but then,  I realize that they have been trained, like most of our society, to let content wash gently over them and pass by un-noted, un-synthesized, un-digested.

One of the most powerful differentiators I’ve found in life, both in academic and professional settings is the skill and habit of taking clear notes.

I came across an interesting piece in the Atlantic recently re: note taking with some important tips and perspective on note taking.

If civilization is based on learning from and building upon the best thinking that’s gone before, then note taking must be one of the keys to building or at least fighting entropy in our civilization.

I do not agree that the best notes are taken on a PC.  I may be old school, but I can write/draw/think much more quickly with pen and paper than I can with a computer.  If some hand-written notes turn out to benefit from digitization later, I can quickly dictate them into text using my Android phone.  Capture and synthesis the most difficult and valuable part of the process, digitization falls far down on my list of priorities.

The last point in the Atlantic article mentions note’s usefulness in court, but I find them useful in any setting where differences in recall or opinion might creep in.  The power of the scribe is a well-known and very useful phenomena, essentially, the person who creates the written record (notes, legal agreements, historical interpretations, etc.) have a special power over the written record of the event.  Harold Innis has an interesting perspective on the power of the scribe through history and in the refinement or entropy of our current civilization.

I came across a very simple implementation of the ideas from the Atlantic article in the Cornell Note Taking Method.

Duly noted!


Specialization Fails Business Leaders

Buffet and Munger

The division of labor leads to specialization leads to great efficiency, but probably not in the case of business leadership.

Charlie Munger has a fascinating perspective on educating business leaders that were excerpted on Farnam Street.

In my experience, history was the ideal course of study in preparing for business leadership.  It is, essentially, the study of causation, including analysis of all possible contributing factors, not just the engineering, psychological, technical, or cultural variable sets.

Of course, in business, studying history often takes the form of case studies.

Has over specialization and turf protection blinded business leaders to larger issues and insights that case studies of business success and failure might reveal?

How could analysts pushing collateralized debt obligations not see the house of cards they were building?  Were they missing the forest for the trees because their education and the culture they worked in were overly specialized?

Munger’s wisdom not only makes sense, it has earned him (and Buffet) some real dollars.


Age ranges served at The Library Table

When I published my summer course catalog focused on middle and high school students I had no idea what was coming!

Many adults asked, “What about me?” and  “How about my curious elementary-aged student?”

So, by way of clarification and expansion:

Elementary/Grammar Stage Students:

I am happy to adjust (or create) courses for younger children.  I homeschool my children ages 5 and 8.

It’s never too early to read poetry together and talk about the images it creates in our mind, how those images affect us, and how poets feel, notice, think, and write.   I particularly love Robert Louis Stevenson’s,  A Garden of Children’s Verses; it’s even illustrated by the illustrious Tasha Tudor.  Of course American history, natural history of the Northwest, creative writing, and drawing all have their place along the trail.

While I appreciate the Trivium, I do not completly agree that children are buckets to be filled with facts during the “Pol Parrot” stage as Dorothy Sayers and other advocate (You know who you are, Susan W-B!).

I strive to offer balanced nutrition to body, soul, and mind especially at this young age because I agree with William Butler Yeats:

Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.

In young students, so eager to soak up the world around them, I find the ideal kindling for starting fires that will last a lifetime.

Middle School/Logic Stage Students:

I love bringing students full of enthusiasm and information to consciousness about their own and other’s thinking.
What’s worth thinking about?
How do we think clearly and not (logic and its fallacies.)
I also enjoy introducing some of the complexity of being human at this age, revealing the human side of heroes, the possiblility that two clear-thinking, strong-minded, good-intentioned people might honestly disagree without the world grinding to a halt or jumping into battle.  5-paragraph essays, dialectic, and debate all find fertile ground during these years.

High School/Rhetoric Stage Students:

Refining teenager’s ability to convince others that, in fact, they really DO know everything provides great opportunities to learn by example from master thinkers and writers.  Only when teens try to convince others of their innate genius do they begin to take their responsibility for riorous research, thinking, and composition seriously.
Giving teenage writers and thinkers an audience of serious readers, adults and peers, sets the stage for their life-long intellectual success.  Close readings and discussions offer young writers the opportunity to see the effect of their work on others.  Nothing motivates more than moving your peers!
Content areas include more dramatic and conflict-filled adult  themes.  Gone are the days of fantasy, in my experience high-school students are eager to look into life’s darker corners, to take the full measure of what it means to be human, both good and bad.  Of course, students are guided in these adventures to take value from even the most difficult experiences of others with humility and empathy.

Life-long Learners/Adult Students:

Adults often say, “I wish I had an education like the one you offer.”
What’s lacking is often:
  • Dedicated time to pursue studies.
  • A clear plan of study that’s motivating.
  • A safe place to know what you know and learn what you want to learn without self-consciousness.

Working out is easy, all we have to do is walk out the front door and keep going and yet, personal trainers exist because a combination of encouragement, kind instruction, and accountability yeilds greater results for most people than “Just Do It.”

  • Do you wish you understood current events, history and geography better?
  • Do you miss the fine literature you read in college?
  • Do you wish you could capture the moments of your life more beautifully in words or in photographs?
  • Do you fear becoming one-dimensional with the focus your work requires?

What would you like to learn?