MetaLearn helps you learn Whether you’re building a business, learning a language or picking up a sport, you’ll learn the principles and techniques needed to succeed, as well as gaining insights from the thought leaders driving the global learning revolution.
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Jun 15, 2017

Technology is changing the way we learn. Gamified learning apps, live webinars and online degrees are now an increasingly common part of the learning landscape and personalised learning systems are already being tested in classrooms.

This shift has brought some fresh thinking to a field that’s been desperately in need of it. But because of this, many have framed digital tech as a magic pill that will solve all our educational problems, without considering its drawbacks.

That’s why I believe we all need to think more critically about how we interact with digital technology on a daily basis, because the secret to learning well with it is not related to which devices we use, but to how we use them.

In this short episode, I'm joined by Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- The best ways to filter information online to get to the good stuff quicker
- The importance of working diversity into your content consumption
- How to protect your precious attention in the digital economy

So whether you're looking to leverage technology more effectively in your learning, filter content more efficiently or stay focused in a world full of distractions, this episode will give you all that and more.

Jun 13, 2017

Uri Bram is the bestselling author of Thinking Statistically, a book that explains the essential concepts in the field in a clear and simple way. He also consults for major international organisations, and speaks at businesses and non-profits about using data and statistical thinking effectively in the real world. 

In a world that’s becoming increasingly driven by big data, understanding statistics is becoming increasingly valuable. But even if you don’t want to become a data scientist, understanding statistics can help you avoid common thinking mistakes and make better decisions in your everyday life.

Uri is someone with a remarkable ability to explain complex ideas in a simple, entertaining way with wit and flair – and he’s not only done this with statistics, but a range of other disciplines including music, game theory and writing.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The key statistical principals that everyone should be aware of
- Whether understanding musical principles makes you a better musician
- How to learn complex skills from experts

You’ll also learn how big data is like teenage sex, why Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are bad models for success and why eating ice cream doesn’t necessarily increase your chance of drowning in the summer! 

So whether you’re math-phobic and looking to gain a basic understanding of statistics, or already consider yourself a data maverick this conversation will give you a whole range of useful insights that you can take away and apply to your own life.

Jun 8, 2017

Anyone can learn another language - regardless of how old they are, where they live or where they work. But the thing that holds most people back is a series of limiting beliefs, which mean that they rarely end up getting started or get demoralised so quickly when they do that they give up within a few weeks!

That's why it's so important to unlearn a lot of the ideas that we absorb from the world around us - especially when they're ones that stop us from making progress in the thing we want to learn!

In this short episode, I'm joined by my friend Will Reynolds - writer, videographer and all around MetaLearner. We discuss a range of topics including:

- Whether there is a "language learning gene" that most great polyglots have
- Whether immersion is important for the language learning process
- Whether children are actually better language learners than adults

So whether you're looking to learn your first foreign language, or have learned one or two and feel that it's not your strong suit, this episode will eliminate any doubts you have about your abilities and give you the tools needed to make real, tangible progress.

Jun 6, 2017

Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg and a bestselling author. Her research focuses on human motivation and goal setting, exploring the impact of the way we look at the future on our emotions and behaviour.

We’re living in an age where positive thinking is all the rage – from pop music to political speeches thee message is the same: think positive, focus on your dreams and they’ll come true before you know it. The problem with following this advice is not only that it’s empty and hard to action – but that it can actually reduce your chances of achieving your goals.

Gabriele Oettingen has spent twenty years researching the science of human motivation and discovered time and again that conventional positive thinking falls short. By changing the way we think about the future her research has proven that we can become healthier, improve our personal relationships and perform better at work.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How people normally set goals and what they’re doing wrong
- The pitfalls of positive thinking and how to avoid them
- The practical tools you can apply to get better results in your life

So whether you’re looking to make some major changes in your life or just level up that extra one per cent, you’ll learn the practical strategies needed to change your mindset and habits in order to achieve your goals.

Jun 1, 2017

If you’re someone with multiple interests, you’ve probably been branded a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None” more times than you can remember. And those of us with many interests sometimes struggle because we can’t be put into a box and labelled as an expert in a specific field.

But during the Renaissance, a polymath was seen as a perfected individual, someone who had mastered intellectual, artistic and physical pursuits. Hence the term “Renaissance Man” that’s still often used to describe people with multiple interests to this day.

In this short episode, I'm joined by my friend Will Reynolds, who is a perfect example of a polymath and MetaLearner because he’s taught himself a whole range of skills including writing, playing the guitar and videography – and importantly he’s been able to make a living from these skills.

We discuss a range of topics including:

- The lessons we can learn from great polymaths like Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Johann Goethe
- Where society's obsession with specialisation comes from and how to deal with it
- How to balance exploring different fields with focusing on getting things done

So whether you're looking to balance your multiple interests, make progress on your learning projects or learn from the great polymaths of history, this episode will give you all that and much more.

May 30, 2017

Ellen Langer is a Harvard psychologist widely known as the “mother of mindfulness” and is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles on mindfulness over the last 35 years.

Mindfulness is becoming more and more of a buzzword these days but very few people actually understand it and even fewer know how to apply it in their everyday lives. But there are few things that can have a bigger impact on your learning and life than improving your awareness of yourself and the world around you.

Ellen is the perfect guide to the field of mindfulness because she takes a clear, no nonsense approach, devoid of the mysticism that often surrounds it. This makes her ideas easy to digest and more importantly, easy to apply in practice.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- What mindfulness actually is and how it differs from mindlessness
- Some of the most common learning myths and how to combat them
- How to keep learning fun and avoid it becoming a chore

So whether you're looking to finally understand mindfulness, uncover some of the learning myths that we're vulnerable to at school or improve your awareness of your own learning, this episode will give you all that and more.

May 24, 2017

Simon Peyton Jones is a computer scientist who currently works as a researcher for Microsoft and has built his own programming language, Haskell. He is also chair of Computing at School, which was central to the 2014 reform of the English curriculum that made computer science a foundational subject.

As our lives become increasingly influenced by computers, it's surprising how few of us know anything about how these devices work. We don't all need to become programmers, but understanding the core principles that are behind our favourite websites and apps is important when we spend so much time on them.

Simon is uniquely positioned to offer insight into the field, given his many years of research and application and his experience teaching computer science as a Professor at University level.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The core computer science principles that everyone should understand
- The importance of focusing on ideas, not devices, in computer science education
- Simon’s view on whether there’s a tradeoff between technology and humanity

‍So whether you want to become a programmer, understand the basic principles behind computers or hear an industry insider's views on to how to manage the use of technology in schools, this episode will give you all that and much more.

May 9, 2017

Jeff Cobb is a thought leader in the field of lifelong learning and the author of the bestselling book, Leading The Learning Revolution. He also runs a popular blog and podcast, and is the founder of Tagoras, a learning consultancy.

As we move from a knowledge economy to a learning economy where we need to acquire new skills everyday just to stand still, the importance of lifelong learning is rapidly increasing and opportunities in the space are huge.

Jeff is someone who is uniquely placed to view the lifelong learning industry from a big picture perspective given his many years of experience and the range of different clients he has been involved with.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The main trends driving the increased demand for lifelong learning
- What makes good educational content and what should be avoided
- How the shift towards mobile is likely to affect the future of learning

So whether you're looking to start a business in the lifelong learning market or are just curious about the latest trends in the space, this episode will give you in depth insights from an industry insider.

May 2, 2017

Ed Fidoe is one of the founders of School 21, an innovative new school in Stratford, East London that's reinventing education by preparing its students, aged 4-18, for the 21st Century.

For so many people, school was characterised by drudgery, rote learning and the stress of exams. But school doesn't have to be that way and there are plenty of people trying to reinvent education for the 21st century.

Ed is one of these people, and along with cofounders Peter Hyman and Oli de Botton, he built a school from scratch that aimed to rebalance head (academic success), heart (character and well-being) and hand (generating ideas, problem solving and making a difference).

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The core skills needed for the 21st century and how to develop them
- The process of reinventing education and the challenges ahead
- The effective and balanced use of technology in classrooms

So whether you're a parent thinking about how to manage your children's eduction or are just curious about innovation in education, this episode will give you a series of fascinating insights from an insider's perspective.

Apr 25, 2017

Barry Schwartz is an acclaimed Professor of Psychology who recently retired after 45 years of teaching at Swarthmore College. Barry has also written three bestselling books on the Paradox of Choice, the Meaning of Work and Practical Wisdom and has done a series of popular TED talks on those subjects.

Practical wisdom is something we could all do with more of. It’s close to what the Ancient Greeks called phronesis - a general understanding of how to live a good life and the decisions we should make.

Barry has spent years studying the subject and even had the opportunity to teach a class on it at Swarthmore, which makes him perfectly placed to offer insights into the topic of wisdom.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to become wiser using tools to learn from our everyday experience
- How practical wisdom could be applied to improve the educational system
- How to make better choices in a world of infinite possibilities

So whether you're looking to make better decisions in your life, learn from your everyday experience or just get a little bit wiser across the board, this episode has you covered with actionable principles and strategies you can apply now.

Apr 18, 2017

Barry Pousman is the founder of Variable Labs, a Virtual Reality company that creates immersive experiences to help people develop soft skills.

Virtual Reality is likely to be a game changing technology for a number of industries but its impact on education in schools and businesses will be huge.

As someone who's running a company at the cutting edge of the industry, as well as filming his own VR experiences, Barry is perfectly placed to offer insights into the potential of the technology.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How learning in VR accelerates the development of soft skills like negotiation
- The potential for VR to revolutionise education in schools and universities
- How VR differs to other storytelling mediums like film, audio and books

So whether you're curious about how VR can help you learn new skills or want to know more about it's impact on the educational system, this episode will give you insights from the cutting edge of this revolutionary new industry.

Apr 11, 2017

Kalid Azad is the founder of Better Explained, one of the world's most popular maths websites that makes hard concepts easy to understand. After studying Computer Science at Princeton, Kalid spent a few years at Microsoft as a program manager, founded a Y Combinator startup, and currently works as a developer.

For many people, maths is the subject they used to hate most in school and they carry this fear of numbers into later life. But it doesn't have to be that way - and understanding basic mathematical principles can be both fun and useful.

Kalid uses an intuition first approach to explain difficult ideas in a way that anyone can understand and this makes him a great person to talk to about any subject or skill including his current profession of computer programming.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to get better at maths and why some people find it so hard
- The secrets behind great explanations of tricky concepts
- How Kalid has learned skills from coding to snowboarding and weight training

So whether you're looking to get better with numbers, learn to code or pick up physical skills, this episode will give you the actionable principles and techniques needed to succeed.

Apr 4, 2017

Niklas Jansen is the co-founder of Blinkist, an app that distills the core insights from non-fiction books into 15-minute summaries that you can access from your smartphone or tablet in written or audio form.

If you're someone who wonders about how to apply what you read in everyday life, then the app is worth checking out, because the short summaries or "blinks" cut away the excess and drive you to take action.

Niklas founded Blinkist with three friends in 2012 and the business has since gone on to raise Series A funding and acquire over a million users.

In this conversation we discuss a range of interesting topics including:

- How Niklas started the business and learned the skills of entrepreneurship
- How to apply what you read and use Blinkist to learn more in less time
- How Niklas and his co-founders create a learning environment at the business

So whether you're looking to build your own business, remember more of what you read or learn better from your coworkers, this episode will give you actionable strategies that you can apply today.

Mar 28, 2017

The MetaLearn podcast has reached the big 5-0. The show is now in 127 countries with listeners on every continent and is growing rapidly – in fact in the first 3 months of 2017, the podcast had 40% more downloads than the whole of 2016!

In today’s special episode you’ll have the chance to hear my reflections on learning and education after fifty episodes of the podcast. I'm interviewed by Joshua Fields, who was the very first guest on the podcast.

Josh is a mental and physical health expert with qualifications in hypnotherapy, NLP and mindfulness meditation and is also a blogger at the Huffington Post, contributing on mental health, entrepreneurship and economics.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- My main reflections on learning based on my insights from the podcast
- The lessons I’ve learned from working as a lecturer and teacher
- My views on the future of learning and the educational system

So if you're interested to find out what I've learned after 50 episodes of the podcast, look no further than this special episode.

Mar 21, 2017

They're two words that get thrown around a lot but what exactly is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Knowledge is something closer to what the Ancient Greeks called Episteme – a specialised knowledge in a particular field or an ability in a skill that's descriptive or explanatory in nature.

Wisdom is something that’s harder to define but it’s closer to what the Greeks called Phronesis – it’s a more general understanding of how to live a good life and the decisions we should make.

In this episode I discuss the differences between knowledge and wisdom, and the insights we can draw from them, including:

- Knowledge comes and goes but wisdom lasts
- Knowledge is additive and wisdom is subtractive
- Knowledge Can Be Taught But Wisdom Must Be Learned

So whether you're looking to make better decisions in your life or become more practically wise, this episode will give you actionable insights that will help you think smarter and make better decisions.

Mar 14, 2017

Ben Medder is a movement coach who has trained in martial arts, athletics and parkour. He’s taken inspiration from the likes of Ido Portal, best known for his work with MMA fighter Connor McGregor, and the Fighting Monkey and Evolve Move Play Methods.

Many people don't identify as being athletic but physical skills can be learned like anything else. While you're not going to become the next Usain Bolt by doing a few sprint sessions, it's easier than most people think to get good at a sport.

As someone who has learned and taught a wide range of physical skills as a coach, Ben is perfectly placed to give advice on the most important elements of picking up new sports or physical practices.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- Ben’s advice to people looking how to move better and pick up a physical skill
- The parallels between parenting and teaching in different contexts
- The role of movement and sports in the educational system

So whether you're looking to learn karate or kayaking, football or fencing, this episode has you covered with practical strategies you can apply straight away.

Mar 7, 2017

In modern society, learning has become synonymous with taking in information passively and retaining it. Students view teachers as people who are supposed to deliver information into their heads so that they can recall it when required.

But this is the one of the most damaging misconceptions we carry into our lives because the truth is that all learning is active. It isn’t a process of having something done to you – it’s a process of you doing something to yourself.

The best teachers all understand this – and know that their main role is not to build a whole fire for their students - it’s to ignite the spark of inspiration that will help them build and feed the fire themselves.

In this episode I discuss some of my main insights about teaching including:

- The teacher’s role in society and how it’s changed throughout history
- The qualities and characteristics that I think make great teachers
- The things we can learn from other educational systems who value teachers

Whether you're involved in the educational system or not, you'll gain insights that will help you reflect on the role of teachers in your life and help you become a great teacher to others, whether at school or in life as a parent or friend.

Feb 28, 2017

Barbara Oakley is an educator and writer who’s empowering people all over the world to learn more effectively. Barb is best known for her role as the lead instructor on Coursera’s Learning How To Learn – the most popular online course in the world last year – and her bestselling book A Mind for Numbers.

For all the hours we spend in school it's remarkable that we're never taught how to learn. This is even more surprising when recent developments in cognitive psychology and neuroscience mean that we know more about the learning process than at any point in history.

Barb's work on the MOOC Learning How To Learn has brought this knowledge to the public domain, with remarkable results thanks to her engaging presentation style and ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple way.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- Barb’s insights from learning in the military and retraining as an engineer at 26
- How to apply what cognitive science has established about the learning process
- The future of online education and the success of "Learning How To Learn"

So whether you're looking to upgrade your learning skills, find out more about how they pick up skills in the military or understand the secrets behind great online education, this episode will give you all that and more.

Feb 21, 2017

Is it really possible to learn from animals? For thousands of years, all kinds of authorities have been repeating the idea that we humans are exceptional and by far the most intelligent in the animal kingdom.

So it’s easy to see why we humans think we’re much smarter than animals – but is that actually the case?

The fact that animals don’t understand us in some ways, and that we don’t understand them in others implies our intelligences are different. But different in kind rather than rather in level – like the difference between analytical and musical intelligence, rather than the 'I’m smarter than you' type of intelligence.

In this episode I dive into 5 of the main lessons I think we can learn from our friends in the animal kingdom including:

- What wolves can teach us about leadership
- What ants can teach us about collaboration
- What giraffes can teach us about being ourselves

So by the end you'll have gained insight into to some of the main lessons we can learn from some of the remarkable creatures we share the world with.

Feb 14, 2017

In ancient cultures, mythology served a number of other important functions on an individual and personal level which may not be immediately obvious.

On a personal level mythology created a sense of awe about the mystery of human existence. By creating this sense of wonder, mythology helped people to learn about their own lives in a way that few other fields could.

On a social level, mythology educated people about how they fit into the group they lived in. Rituals would help to mark the different stages of life and would help to define the roles of the different members in that society.

In this episode I discuss the insights we can take from mythology including:

- My interpretation of the myth of the Trojan Horse in Homer's Iliad
- The danger of hubris, drawing on the myth of Icarus and Daedalus
- The hero's journey, drawing on Homer's Odyssea

In this episode you'll learn to look beyond the surface of mythology and find far more than literary entertainment - because mythology is at the core of ancient wisdom and points at what it means to live a good human life.

Feb 7, 2017

Zahra Davidson is a multidisciplinary designer innovating in education by encouraging people to learn in communities. She is the founder of Enrol Yourself, an organization that gives people the structure and support to pursue learning marathons (long term learning projects) with other lifelong learners.

When we leave school we often miss out on one of the most important components of learning anything - community. Communities allow us to learn from others, assess our performance level and share the learning experience.

Zahra has experience of participating in great learning communities and has now built and managed her own, so she's perfectly placed to offer insights into the process of using community to accelerate the learning process.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The importance of learning in communities
- The impact of the educational system on collaborative learning
- The qualities needed to become a self directed learner

So whether you're looking to join a community to supercharge your learning or start your very own learning marathon, this episode will give you the tools and techniques you need to succeed.

Jan 31, 2017

Children are full of life. They're constantly growing and learning. They embody curiosity and the creative spirit. And these are all qualities we could all use more of in every area of our lives.

We become so used to learning things we don’t really want to at school and university that we stop asking questions. We forget what it’s actually like to learn something we love and to learn it in a way that’s fun and enjoyable.

But the good news is that every one of us can rediscover that boundless curiosity and learn like a child again by looking to the creative geniuses all around us.

In this episode I explore the insights children have to offer us, including:

- Asking questions about everything and exploring your curiosity
- Living fearlessly and recognising your limiting beliefs for what they are
- Having fun and making the learning process enjoyable rather than a chore

So by the end of this episode you'll have everything you need to bring more creativity and joy into your life and work.

Jan 24, 2017

Dr Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and writer who is committed to exploring the mysteries of the brain and mind. He is best known for his book The Master and His Emissary in which he explores the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on history and culture over the centuries.

Most scientists have long abandoned the attempt to understand why nature separated the brain's hemispheres. But anyone who knows anything about the area would say there are differences: it’s just that no-one seems to know why.

Iain has spent years researching the subject in depth and has made some remarkable findings about the differences between the left and right hemispheres and their impact on society in the Western World.

In this conversation we discuss a range of topics including:

- The true differences between the left and right brain
- The impact our left brain dominated world has had on the educational system
- How to apply what cognitive science has established about the learning process

So whether you're looking to understand the mechanics of your brain a little better or find out how our thinking affects the society we live in today this episode will give you all that and much more.

Jan 17, 2017

Most people over estimate how hard it is to learn a new skill because they confuse getting good at something with becoming a master in it.

This short episode will give you a simple framework to take you from the novice, beginner stage to an intermediate level of proficiency as enjoyably and effectively as possible in the skill you want to learn.

In this episode you'll learn how to:

- Filter learning projects in order to choose the ones you're likely to stick with
- Build strategies based on the three pillars of mindset, habits and environment
- Deal with the inevitable challenges you'll face on your learning journey

So whether you're building a business, learning a language or picking up a sport, this episode will give you the principles and techniques needed to succeed.

Jan 10, 2017

The idea that we all learn differently has been appropriated by various theorists who suggest that most of us can be placed into one of several predefined categories - or learning styles.

While I’m reluctant to promote one specific category set when it comes to learning, I think the process of looking at them can be helpful in getting you to reflect on your own experience and understand what works best for you.

So in this episode, I’ll outline some areas that I think are important to pay attention to when trying to work out how you learn best, including:

- The activity of learning – Reading vs. Listening vs. Speaking vs. Writing
- The optimal time for learning - The times of day you're wired to learn best at
- The mode of learning - taking a specialist approach vs. a generalist one

This episode will help you identify how you learn best by offering you some simple tools and techniques you can apply to reflect on your personal experience and consider how your learning differs according to the situation you’re in so that you can adapt flexibly to learn the skill you want to in the most effective way.


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