Applying high level HTM ideas to learn new concepts faster

Before I learned about HTM I always use to wonder why the memory palace technique worked so well.

Why was it that it made it easier to not just remember a list of items but also to remember the order of that list as well?

One of the ideas I learned from HTM is that the system the neocortex uses to navigate an environment is very similar to the system it uses to learn new concepts. With this understanding, it became more clear why the memory palace worked so well.

The next thing I’ve started to notice is that the fastest way I learn anything is by starting with an example.

Sometimes people start with a general theory and then go to an example. However, starting with the theory is almost always slower and I’m sure we’ve all had the experience where we read the theory and it’s hard to make sense of it because we have no point of reference.

I believe that the theory and the example are both points of references. However, the theory comes after the examples. Even the people who came up with the theory probably went through many examples. Therefore, the person who is learning the material for the first time is going through an unnecessary step by trying to learn the theory before having a concrete example to relate it to.

I know this is a small detail but if it was universally understood that learning by example is the fastest way to learn anything and we designed our education systems around that idea, it could collectively save us a lot of frustration.


I agree with you @yousef, I think a lot of people are let down by education systems (especially secondary and tertiary) where there’s an over-emphasis on formal notation for concepts that don’t require that in order to grasp it.

I think the difficulty is that producing better-designed learning material requires:

  1. humility - deliberately making your field of expertise seem easy can be a ego challenge
  2. creativity - it takes a lot more effort. I bet HTM school would have taken a fraction of the time to produce without visualisations!