Tag Archives: Autodidact

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!


Classical Humanities Tutoring for Excellence

Like a ship heading across a wine-dark sea, the course of our lives can be greatly affected by small changes early in the voyage.   Over time, small changes in direction lead to vastly different destinations.

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.”          – Plato

A young person’s education sets their course through life.  Our mission is to help set a course that serves mind, heart, and body over a life time.

Life long learning ahead

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. – Aristotle

Our books, courses, and tutoring services all work to nurture a love of learning that will last a life time.  With support, early successes and “Eureka!” moments become virtuous cycle.

When your student sees their opportunity to join the ongoing conversation that is civilization, they will never be able to turn away from the high road of learning, thinking, and contributing.

[If] you have as part of the habitual furniture of your mind the past ages of man, his slow and partial emergence out of barbarism, and the brevity of his total existence in comparison with astronomical epochs — if, I say, such thoughts have molded your habitual feelings … you will have, beyond your immediate activities, purposes that are distant and slowly unfolding, in which you are not an isolated individual but one of the great army of those who have led mankind towards a civilized existence. If you have attained to this outlook, a certain deep happiness will never leave you, whatever your personal fate may be. Life will become a communion with the great of all ages, and personal death no more than a negligible incident. – Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

I know, I’ve done it myself.  I was a latchkey kid left in a house full of books.  I wasted a lot of time on TV, but I also read the encyclopedia and selections from the Great Books.  I rose from a normal, suburban child of the 1970’s to write award-winning history, success in business, and even lecturing at UCLA. Now, I focus my efforts on teaching others to develop the habits and use the tools I’ve discovered along the way.

Learn about these habits and tools here