In this video clip, I want to give a few tips on how to succeed in this course, our Understanding Einstein course, or really any course that you might be taking. And our first tip here is cultivate a growth mindset. Cultivate a growth mindset. What do we mean by this? Well, let me start off by doing a little thought experiment. Einstein was famous for thought experiments. This one actually isn't some of what was Einstein's experience, but actually has been done. There is a Professor here at Stanford, whose name is Carol Dweck. A very well known Professor of Psychology and has done a lot of research In this area, in fact, let me just add here that, if you're, as I talk more about this, if you're interested in finding out more about it she has a book. For the general reader, just called Mindset, that talks about some of these ideas in more detail. We're just going to hit a high point here. So here's there's this imaginary situation that actually she set up with college students in this case, and she has told them okay, imagine you're going to a class, your favorite class. You love the subject, you love the professor, and in class, the day that you enter class, you get the latest paper back or exam back, and you see a grade that you definitely didn't expect. Maybe you were thinking A or B range and you're in the C-, maybe even a D or something like that. And she asked them imagine how you would feel in that situation. Be honest with yourself, what would your response be? And then she said okay, you go out of class and you're on your way home and maybe you don't quite come to a stop at a stop sign or something like that. Or you are going slightly too fast, and you get pulled over and you get a ticket. So now how do you feel about how the day is going? And then thirdly, you get home, you call up your best friend and you want to commiserate a little bit, and your friend just says, that's nice, and then sort of blows you off. And how would you feel at that point? And as she analyzed these responses of these students, she discovered that they seemed to fit into sort of two categories. One category we're feeling such as in terms of the paper exam. I just can't do this subject. I don't have what it takes. How they would respond to it? They would go into the closet and pout. They would break something. They would eat chocolate or whatever. And yet there's another set of responses that again, supposedly honest responses here, students would say, well I'd study smarter next time for the exam. I'd be more careful driving. I would call back my friend and patch things up and talk it out out and so on and so forth. And this was intriguing to her and others that were doing this research. And they did a number of other studies, as well, with this. And they seemed to find, what they called, more or less, people in two camps. Not hard and fast. But people who tended more toward either a fixed mindset. They called it a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. And those who tended toward a fixed mindset in intellectual matters said, I have a certain amount of intellectual ability and I can't grow up more than that, my brain is just sort of set. While those who had a growth mindset said essentially, you know what? I struggle with this, but I can get better at it. And so they had that growth mentality, that growth mindset. And actually, in brain research that goes by a fancy name. More and more scientists are realizing that the brain can be characterized by neuroplasticity, which actually means that we can grow neurons in our brains, our brains can get better. Now certainly there are certain times of life where that occurs much more readily than other times, and yet just by taking a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, reminding ourselves that yes, we can get better at something, they found that that has an enormous effect on performance. They've actually studied students going into like a freshman chemistry class, a very difficult class. And by asking them a few questions beforehand, they can more or less identify those who tend toward a more fixed mindset versus those who tend toward a growth mindset. Whether it's genetics partly, personality, just upbringing, all those things can factor into it. But growth mindset versus fixed mindset, and then they tracked them in their class, and they found that both group struggled, many of them in both groups struggled, but the ones with the growth mindset had that, that resilience, that perseverance, that grit. Sometimes it's called, let's say I'm not doing well in this course but it's not that I've reached my level of understanding, that I can't understand anymore, I can't reach the next level. But they persevered, and in the end of the course they tended to get about one grade higher, those who had the growth mindset going in, than those who had the fixed mindset. And so you might say well, what if a fixed mindset is fixed, right? Then you can't change it. Either you have growth mindset or fixed mindset. What Dweck and others have discovered however is that it actually can be changed just by the very fact of understanding that growth can occur and that you can improve your understanding. It may be a struggle, but you can get to a better level of understanding. That you can actually put somebody into growth mindset. Dweck herself talks about in her book how she has a tendency toward a fixed mindset. And has spent many years reminding herself of the results of her research. That it's important to take a growth mindset to a subject if you want to break through some of that struggle of understanding and get to the next level. So cultivate a growth mindset. Remind yourself that your brain is not fixed, that it actually can learn new things, can improve your understanding, no matter how old you are or where you are in your current level of understanding. You can always reach a higher level of understanding. It doesn't mean everybody will reach the same level of understanding, of course, everybody starts at the same level, but you as an individual can improve that level of understanding. And certainly when we are taking a course in understanding Einstein, right? The special theory of relativity. We need to remind ourselves that, yes some of the concepts may be difficult. But with some work, with some thought, with some practice, we can actually get to a higher level of understanding, a deeper level of understanding. Okay, so cultivate a growth mindset. And by the way, this is an aside here, for those of you that have kids, or maybe in the future might have kids, this is very important, because often we will say if a child comes home with a good grade, you'll say, 'you must be really smart at that' It's natural right, natural praise of that we give children. And yet what Dweck and others have found, that type of praise actually is counter productive because it inculcates the fixed mind set in the student, that they're smart and they have a certain level of intelligence. But they think that is it, that's the level. If instead you praised their effort, you must have worked really hard at this, that sort of implicates a growth mindset. And students, and children. So, basically praise effort, not intelligence, just a little side along with this. Again, wrote a very interesting book on mindset if you want to read more about these things. But for our purposes, just remind yourself, and, and for some of us, we have to remind ourselves a lot, cultivate a growth mindset. Okay, we won't spend as long of time on these others as that one but that's very important. Number two, which relates a little bit to number one here and that is knowledge is Constructed not, knowledge is constructed, not received. Sometimes we have this idea that, especially listening to video clips or lecture or whatever that just we're pouring the information into our brain and we hope that some of it sticks in there some place. Actually The process of understanding something of getting a better understanding of something is a construction process. A good analogy is like building a tall building. Building a skyscraper, any building. You've gotta lay a good foundation. And then build on that foundation. And so sometimes we're trying to build on floor 12 When we haven't really built floors 6 through 8 very well. And floors 9th and on don't even exist, and we're trying to do something on floor 12. So knowledge is constructed, not received. It's a process of construction and you want to lay those foundations for that process so you can build on it. Again, so The growth mindset. The growth is occurring, but it's a process of construction, not just sort of pouring information into our brains. So again, remind ourselves about that, it's a construction process throughout any course that you may be taking. Okay, knowledge is constructed, not received and number three, embrace The struggle because this construction process is often a struggle and we talked about that a little bit with the growth mindset as well. And Einstein has a wonderful quote On this. He says that is not the result of scientific research that ennobles humans and enriches their nature? Okay, so he's talking about ennobling humans, enriching our nature, but what actually does it? It's the struggle the understand while performing creative and open minded intellectual work. He emphasizes it's the struggle to understand and certainly Einstein he didnt know the term growth mindset but he definitely had growth mindset. He struggled for years with some of the things we'll be talking about the special theory of relativity to understand what was going on and in fact even talk later on he reached a point psychic tension. He just could not figure it out and yet he persevered and really sort of embraced that struggle to understand. We have the advantage of falling in his footsteps, he was blazing new trails we're following in those foot steps but even so concepts aren't always easy. The math for some of us might Be a little tricky at times because it's been a while since we've had it but as I've mentioned before we'll have a math review video clip you can watch. And of course you have the option of focusing on the qualitative aspects of the course, taking a qualitative approach. But embrace the struggle because that's an ennobling, enriching experience. And when you are able to get to the other side, as it were. That's when the real feeling of accomplishment occurs. So embrace the struggle. Actually, number four here. We're going to need a little more room for this so let me erase our first three. Those are more general concepts. Let's just do some practical tips. First practical tip is, probably should have mentioned this at the very beginning here but will mention it now, take notes. As you watch these video clips it's very easy. Just because we're in the habit of watching what YouTube videos, or TV, or whatever, that were not used to taking notes. Take notes though. There is something about the writing process that enables the stuff to get into our brain and stick a little bit more than if were just watching. so take notes and in many cases we'll have handouts that will go along with the video clips that even encourage you to take notes. A handout with an outline and spaces to take notes or use your own notebook of course. So take notes is first. Visualize, as I mentioned, Einstein was famous for his thought experience, we'll be doing some of those as well. But just sort of get pictures in your mind, try to Even sketch it out, so combine taking notes and visualising something if it helps to serve. Get a picture of what's going on, so visualise. Thirdly, here, is repeat. What do we mean by that, well the great thing about things like video clips is that you can watch them again And studies have shown that our understanding of something, if you watch a video clip or attend a lecture, our level of understanding, what we actually remember, goes down fairly quickly. But if you, within 24 hours of first viewing something or listening to a lecture If you review that material, if you repeat that material in a sense, our remembrance, our memory, goes up by about 40%. And so essentially what you want to do, and people have done studies of what's the best schedule for this repetition. So maybe within the first 24 hours, so it kicks it up again. And then it will gradually go down again maybe two days later it kicks it up again. And then maybe a week later and so on and so forth. We don't have to be that precise for our purposes, but just the whole notion of repetition to begin to get things to stick in our brain. Important to repeat. The material. Now another thing along with that is, how do you repeat the material? And this point is testing is better than rehearsing. So we're talking about studying now in terms of studying material. Testing's better than rehearsing. Too often I see students who, when they're studying for an exam or studying material that they've previously worked on, they're just sort of reading through, they've got all their yellow highlighting in the textbook and they're just sort of Reading through it again. They say, yeah I remember that, I remember that, I get that. Studies again have shown, that if you're just sort of rehearsing the material in your mind, again, it doesn't work as well. It's more effective to actually test yourself. Make up questions about the material. If there's a text book involved, there are questions in the text book you can work on. And in our course, we'll have many assessment quizzes To just help in that testing process, for whatever reason it engages the brain more if we actually have to solve a problem or answer a question rather than just sort of review the material in terms of rehearsing material. Now there are many case where rehearsing is important, musical instruments and so on and so forth but in this case studying we're talking about here, testing is better Then rehearsing. And then e here, this one will not be popular. It is, don't Multitask. because we all like to multitask. Again, studies have shown, when they've looked at people who try to multitask, it just doesn't work very well. In fact, let me give, I mentioned the Carol Dweck book a little bit ago. Another good book, if you're interested in sort of the brain science behind some of this practical advice, it's a book called Brain Rules by John Medina. And so Brain Rules. There's a website, I believe it's www.brainrules.net. Very fascinating book, talks about brain science, but then the practical implications. And turns out, the brain has what they sometimes called an attentional focus. It can only focus attention on one thing at a time. Now we can switch back and forth between things, but there's a slight delay. And then you lose focus on one thing when you switch to another thing. So it's like you're doing something. An email comes in and so then you switch focus to the email or your Facebook page or whatever, or that text message that just comes through. And another interesting thing they found is that people who think they are best at multitasking are actually the worst. Okay, so if you think you're really good at multitasking you may have to question yourself a little bit there. So especially in studying something, sometimes because of just the lives we lead, it's hard for us to focus attention. So let me just give you one brief technique to help. It's called the Pomodoro, The Pomodoro Technique. Some of you may know, pomodoro is Italian for tomato. So what's the idea here with this tomato technique? Well, it comes from those kitchen timers that are shaped like a tomato with a little twisty top, and you can twist it and then set the timer, and then it goes bing after however many minutes you set it for. So that's where the name comes from. The idea is this. Whether you have a tomato timer or whatever kind of timer you have, set it for 20 minutes. Then focus your attention on whatever you're doing, say, studying material, working on something, for 20 minutes. And then the timer goes off, bing, you get a five minute break. Check your email, Facebook page, messages, whatever, at that point. And then you're back again after 5 minutes, 20 more minutes, 5 minute break, 20 more minutes if you have a challenge with multitasking or your focus of attention is always shifting. So you will get better results that way. That's the so-called Pomodoro technique. Just like the Brain Rules, www.brainrules.net, if you do a search for Pomodoro technique on the Internet, you can find a number of websites that tell more about that. But that's the basic idea. Okay, one more thing, so that practical tips. Finally, This is number five. We'll introduce a little Latin phrase here. Festina lente, festina lente. Some of you may have heard this, may know about it. In English it is, make haste slowly. Somewhat of a contradiction in terms, but the idea here is essentially, don't go too fast. Don't get ahead of yourself. And especially in a course like this where we want to get a deeper understanding of some of Einstein's ideas, we're going to try to practice this. Make haste slowly. Now for some of you that means that we'll be going maybe a little too slowly. You'll want to jump ahead. Well, the great thing of course is, with video clips, to a certain extent you can jump ahead a little bit in the course. So you can fast forward through the video clip if you think we're going a little bit too slowly. So I try to remind ourselves throughout the course, make haste slowly. Because haste is, in a sense, the enemy of understanding, and especially deeper understanding. And of course, that's our goal in this course, to understand Einstein at a deeper level. So, some practical tips for how to succeed in this course, or really any course.