MetaLearn Podcast

The MetaLearn Podcast gives you the knowledge and skills needed to understand yourself and the world around you, so you can futureproof yourself and thrive in the 21st century. Host Nasos Papadopoulos interviews the world's top experts in every field, extracting the principles needed learn faster, think smarter and live better.
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MetaLearn Podcast








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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.


Jan 3, 2017

In this short episode I review what I learned in 2016, sharing my successes and failures in everything from the process of starting a podcast, to holding discussion groups as a university lecturer and pursuing my own language learning projects.

In ancient Roman myth, Janus was the god of transitions. The early part of January, named after Janus, was traditionally seen as a time for reflection on the year gone by and planning the year ahead - a process of looking forwards with one head and backwards with the other to determine action in the present.

For me, this last year was a significant one and in this episode I condense the most important lessons I’ve learned into 5 main areas, sharing my successes and failures with you along the way.

Some of the themes related to what I learned in 2016 include:

- Discussion and dialogue as learning tools
- The power of community for learning anything
- Knowing when to give up on a learning project

So whether you're looking to learn better in teams, manage your learning projects more effectively or find out what I've learned from teaching at a university this past year, this episode will give you all that and more.

Dec 27, 2016

Ellen Jovin is a polyglot, writer and the founder of Syntaxis, a communication skills training firm based in New York.

In 2009, she started a project to learn as much as she could of the languages spoken in New York in a year. But once she started, she never stopped - her schedule has included 21 different languages involving a total of nine different alphabets and writing systems - and she’s still going strong with no end in sight.

Ellen’s an accomplished polyglot and an excellent communicator as I found out when we met at the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki, where she gave a fantastic talk on language learning products.

In this episode we discuss a range of topics including:

- What it means to know a language and Ellen’s definition of fluency
- The method Ellen uses to learn languages and how this can be used by others
- The challenges Ellen has faced learning languages and how she overcame them

Whatever language you’re learning and whatever stage you’re at, you’ll benefit from Ellen’s insights and leave this episode with mindsets and skillsets that you can take away and start using straight away.

Dec 20, 2016

Shane Parrish is the founder of Farnam Street, an online intellectual hub that covers topics like human misjudgment, strategy, and philosophy to help readers make better decisions.

We all make decisions every day which ultimately affect the results we get in our lives. But so few of us ever stop to think critically about the process we use for making those decisions, let alone try to improve it.

Shane has spent years thinking and writing about decision making, drawing on multiple disciplines and interviewing thought leaders in the field. Add to this his experience as an investor and he's perfectly placed to offer valuable advice that can help you make better decisions in your life.

In this episode we discuss a variety of interesting topics including:

- Shane’s process for making decisions and how it’s evolved over time
- What Shane has learned from his heroes Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger
- The importance of multidisciplinary thinking and learning in a complex world

So whether you're looking to make an important career decision or want to decide whether you should buy shares in that company you've been following, this episode will give you the actionable strategies needed to make that process more structured and increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Dec 13, 2016

Michael Levi Harris is an actor, filmmaker and polyglot who runs the accent coaching business My Accent Guy. Michael trained at the Guildhall School in London as an actor and has since been involved in a number of theatre productions. He also wrote and starred in the short film 'The Hyperglot'.

Actors are masters of using body language and non-verbal communication to develop characters and connect with an audience. But these techniques have many applications across disciplines from language learning to public speaking.

Michael gave one of the most entertaining talks at the Polyglot Conference on how to apply acting techniques to language learning, so I reached out to find out what other areas these techniques could be applied to.

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

- Whether personality is innate or constructed and how acting affects this
- Michael’s method for language learning and accent development
- Insights gained from screenwriting and acting in films and plays

So whether you're looking to improve your non verbal communication for a presentation at work, upgrade your accent or find out more about the world of film and theatre, this episode will give you all that and much more.

Dec 6, 2016

Paddy Milner is a musician and songwriter who’s widely recognised as one of the leading blues piano players in the world.

He’s currently the piano player of choice for Sir Tom Jones, following several years with the late great Jack Bruce and his current group Londonola plays homegrown British music with a strong dose of New Orleans spirit.

On top of being an exceptional musician, Paddy is also a great teacher and has produced several blues piano courses for different levels. This makes him the perfect man to outline the process of learning and mastering an instrument.

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

- Paddy’s creative process and where he draws inspiration from
- The key habits needed to pick up and master a musical instrument
- Paddy’s experience of working with the likes of Jack Bruce and Tom Jones

So whether you're looking to pick up a new instrument or take your current one to the next level this episode will give you all the inspiration you need and actionable strategies you can start applying straight away.

Nov 29, 2016

The human brain is a remarkable tool but so few of us actually know how to use it properly. Advances in neuroscience and cognitive psychology mean that we now know more about the brain than at any point in history, so there's a whole host of knowledge out there that can help us understand and use our brains better.

This episode will introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of the brain, showing you how to understand your own one better and how to apply some of the major insights from neuroscience and cognitive psychology to improve your learning and life.

Plus I answer some of your questions including:

- What are the major differences between the right and left sides of the brain
- How can we apply knowledge about the brain to improve learning and memory?
- How important are brain genetics in determining intelligence?

So whether you're looking to for an instruction manual to help you use your brain better, or want understand the difference between the left and right hemispheres or the role of genetics in intelligence this episode has you covered.

Nov 22, 2016

Luca Lampariello is a polyglot and language teacher who runs his own language learning company LinguaCore and the highly popular blog The Polyglot Dream. Luca speaks 13 languages and is currently fluent in 10 of them but he’s always adding more to his repertoire.

One of the main reasons I love learning languages is because speaking them is an amazing way to connect to other people and cultures and Luca is big proponent of this as well. To put it simply, he's my kind of polyglot!

In this episode we discuss a range of topics, including:

- What it means to know a language and Luca’s definition of fluency
- The method Luca uses to learn languages and how this can be adapted by others
- The challenges Luca faced in language learning and how he’s overcome them

Whatever language you’re learning and whatever stage you’re at, you’ll benefit massively from Luca’s insights and leave this episode with mindsets and skillsets that you can take away and start using in your own learning straight away.

Nov 15, 2016

Language learning seems far more complicated than it is. Ultimately it's a skill that can be broken down into three sub skills - grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation - which you'll need to develop to get to a good level of proficiency.

But one of the things that's rarely discussed is the importance of community for language learning. This is something I've experienced on my language learning journey and my time at the Polyglot Conference in Greece.

In this episode I’ll teach you how to become a better language learner, offering a series of tools and techniques that you can apply to any language to develop the skills of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

Plus I answer some of your questions including:

- Can you learn two languages at once and what’s the best method to do this?
- How do you maintain languages that you already know?
- How important is a total immersion experience for language learning?

So whether you're looking to pick up a new language, maintain ones you already know or refresh and old one you've forgotten, this episode has you covered with practical strategies and techniques you can apply straight away.

Nov 8, 2016

Mariana Marquez and Emma Zangs are two public speaking coaches and choreographers, who teach people to speak better and improve their body language through their company MetaSpeech.

One of the things that gives the most bang for the buck in public speaking is good body language, but it's something people often ignore and fail to improve.

As choreographers and movement directors Mariana and Emma bring a fresh perspective to the world of public speaking and they’ve successfully coached clients securing funding, pitching on TV shows and speaking at conferences.

In this episode we discuss a range of topics including:

- The most common non-verbal communication mistakes and how to avoid them
- How to tap into the mind-body connection
- The importance of thinking with the body and movement in schools

So whether you're looking to improve your body language for an upcoming presentation at work or understand the relationship between your mind and body better, this episode has you covered.

Nov 1, 2016

Julian Treasure is a communications expert, acclaimed TED Speaker and the founder of The Sound Agency, a consultancy that helps businesses improve their results by becoming more conscious about their sound.

Studies have shown that we spend 60% of our communication time listening but the average person can only remember 10% of that 3 days later. And every one of us needs to learn how to listen better, especially in a world full of noise.

As an expert on sound and listening Julian is perfectly placed to advise on this and his 5 TED talks on listening, speaking and communication have been viewed an estimated 40 million times, with one in the top 20 of all time.

In this episode we discuss a range of topics including:

- How we can use sound to positively influence our learning and life
- The 5 simple tools that people can apply right now to listen better
- The tips we can learn from great speakers to improve our communication skills

So whether you're looking to improve your listening or speaking skills, or use
sound more consciously in your learning life, this episode has you covered with actionable strategies you can apply right away.

Oct 25, 2016

Richard Nisbett is the Theodore Newcomb Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan and has written 3 great books for a lay audience on mental models, the nature of intelligence and how thinking differs across cultures.

Understanding the patterns behind our thought processes is a crucial part of developing self awareness and improving as learners, as we're often subject to cognitive biases that take us down the wrong path.

Richard has spent decades researching thinking across contexts and cultures, which is why I was so keen to reach out to have a discussion on the subject.

In this episode we discuss a range of topics including:

- How to become aware of the mental models that drive behaviour and decisions
- The differences between Eastern and Western thought
- The way we view intelligence and the state of the nature vs. nurture debate

So whether you're looking to become aware of your own thought processes, understand the main cultural differences between Asians and Westerners or gain insight into the nature vs nurture debate, this episode has you covered.

Oct 18, 2016

The future of learning will be determined by a number of key issues - from the impact of technology and the rise of EdTech, to the evolution of the educational system and the need for lifelong learning in personal and professional contexts.

In this episode I explore all of these issues in depth and answer the question I always ask guests at the end of my podcast interviews - "What's your vision for the future of learning?"

Plus I answer your questions including:

- Is there a way to increase the likelihood of people completing online courses?
- What are the differences between digital and in person learning experiences?
- How do we integrate learning into our lives effectively?

So if you want to know what can do to put yourself at the cutting edge of learning, this podcast will give you an insider's perspective of the major trends and actionable insights you can apply to your life.

Oct 12, 2016

Jordan Poulton is the co-founder of Makers Academy, London's leading Web Developer Bootcamp which teaches you how to code in just 12 Weeks. He is a former president of Oxford Entrepreneurs and previously appeared on the BBC’s hit show The Apprentice in 2013.

Coding is arguably the skill with the fastest growing demand in the modern economy and more people are looking to acquire the skill every year. But coding is a challenging skill to learn and people are often unsure where to start.

Jordan went through the first Makers Academy cohort and by the end of the process, he was asked to join the Makers Team as a Co-Founder. As a result, he's got both a student's and an educator's perspective on the topic, which makes him uniquely placed to give advice on the subject.

In this episode we discuss a range of topics including:

- The fundamental skills and mental models a good programmer needs to develop
- The blend of theory and practice that’s best for learning entrepreneurship
- The changing educational landscape of the 21st century

So whether you're learning to code, building a business or curious about the way technology is shaping education, this episode will give you all that and more.

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