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Author – Scott H. Young

Raise a Genius
The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and how Schools should Teach

“Always have a challenge.

How to start learning a new language:

  • Start speaking the very first day.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.
  • Use a phrasebook to get started; save formal study for later.
  • Use visual mnemonics to memorize vocabulary.

The best ultralearners are those who blend the practical reasons for learning a skill with an inspiration that comes from something that excites them.


A good rule of thumb is that you should invest approximately 10 percent of your total expected learning time into research prior to starting.


If you have several hours to study, you’re possibly better off covering a few topics rather than focusing exclusively on one.


The learning activities are always done with a connection to the context in which the skills learned will eventually be used.

Though first covering the material is often essential to begin doing practice, asserts that it’s actually while doing the thing you want to get good at when much of the learning takes place.

Whenever possible, spend a good portion of your learning time just doing the thing you want to get better at.


Rate-determining step: a reaction takes place over multiple steps, with the products of one reaction becoming the reagents for another. = learning.

By identifying a rate-determining step in your learning reaction, you can isolate it and work on it specifically.

Direct-Then-Drill Approach

  1. Try to practice the skill directly.
  2. Analyze the direct skill and isolate components.
    either rate-determining steps in your performance or subskills you find difficult to improve because there are too many other things going on for you to focus on them.
  3. Go back to direct practice and integrate what you’ve learned.

Which aspect of the skill, if you improved it, would cause the greatest improvement to your abilities overall for the least amount of effort?

Find a way to enhance the learning process by accelerating learning on the specific things that you find most difficult.

Carefully designed drills elicit creativity and imagination as you strive to solve a more complex learning challenge by breaking it into specific parts.

Drills require the learner not only to think deeply about what is being learned, but also figure out what is most difficult and attack that weakness directly, rather than focus on what is the most fun or what has already been mastered. This requires strong motivation and a comfort with learning aggressively.

Something mentally strenuous provides a greater benefit to learning than something easy.


In nearly every biography of great geniuses and contemporary ultralearners some form of retrieval practice is mentioned.


Feedback is one of the most consistent aspects of the strategy ultralearners use.

What often separated the ultralearning strategy from more conventional approaches was the immediacyaccuracy, and intensity of the feedback being provided.

Feedback works well when it provides useful information that can guide future learning.

Ultralearners need to be sensitive to what feedback is actually useful and tune out the rest.

Always strive to seek aggressive feedback and constructive criticism.


If you care about long-term retention, don’t cram.


The Feynman Technique

  1. Write down the concept or problem you want to understand at the top of a piece of paper.
  2. In the space below, explain the idea as if you had to teach it to someone else.
    a. If it’s a concept, ask yourself how you would convey the idea to someone who has never heard of it before.
    b. If it’s a problem, explain how to solve it and, crucially, why that solution procedure makes sense to you.
  3. When you get stuck, meaning your understanding fails to provide a clear answer, go back to your book, notes, teacher, or reference material to find the answer.

For many areas of creative or professional skills, another more accessible path is to combine two skills that don’t necessarily overlap to bring about a distinct advantage that those who specialize in only one of those skills do not have.
For instance, you might be an engineer who becomes superb at public speaking. You may not be the best possible engineer or the best possible presenter, but combining those two skills could make you the best person to present on engineering topics for your company at conferences, thus giving you access to new professional opportunities.

Pushing out to an extreme in some aspect of the skill you’re cultivating, even if you eventually decide to pull it back to something more moderate, is often a good exploration strategy.

The goal of ultralearning is to expand the opportunities available to you, not narrow them. It is to create new avenues for learning and to push yourself to pursue them aggressively rather than timidly waiting by the sidelines.

How to Raise an Ultralearner

  1. Start early.
    The child’s education should begin no later than three, and specialization should begin no later than six.
  2. Specialize.
  3. Make practice into play.
  4. Create positive reinforcement to make skill a pleasant, rather than frustrating, experience.
  5. Avoid coerced learning.
    Encourage them to develop their own abilities to teach themselves and adjust their learning.

Ultralearning Principles

  1. Meta-learning
  2. Focus
  3. Directness
  4. Drill
  5. Retrieval
  6. Feedback
  7. Retention
  8. Intuition
  9. Experimentation