Self-Education Tip: Build Small Skills in the Right Order

Lukeprog at Less Wrong talks about what he learned about interpersonal communication in a Scientology class, and what it taught him about learning:

Building small skills in the right order is an excellent way to create and maintain success spirals.

Trying to master a large skill set like salesmanship is a daunting task that will likely involve many demotivating failures before you ever taste success. The same goes for public speaking, writing research papers, and lots of other large skill sets involving a complex interaction of many small skills.

Anna Salamon uses math to explain this concept. You could tackle calculus immediately after Algebra I, and you might eventually pick it up after many frustrating failures if you read the calculus textbook enough times, but why would you do this? It’s much easier and more satisfying to learn more algebra piece by piece until the jump to calculus is not so great. That way, you can experience the pleasure and confidence-boost of mastering new concepts all along the way to calculus.

Less Wrong: Build Small Skills in the Right Order

(via Theoretick)

The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

Another interesting thread for autodidacts on Less Wrong, this one dedicated to compiling a list of the best text books on particular subjects.

There have been other pages of recommended reading on Less Wrong before and elsewhere, but this post is unique. Here are the rules:

1.Post the title of your favorite textbook on a given subject.
2.You must have read at least two other textbooks on that same subject.
3.You must briefly name the other books youve read on the subject and explain why you think your chosen textbook is superior to them.

Less Wrong: The Best Textbooks on Every Subject –

(via Theoretick)

See also: A Treasure Trove for Autodidacts

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