42 - Create a Lively Visual Metaphor or Analogyدوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 42
42 - Create a Lively Visual Metaphor or Analogy
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One of the best things you can
do to not only remember, but
understand concepts, is to create
a metaphor or analogy for them.
Often the more visual the better.
A metaphor is just a way of realizing that
one thing is somehow similar to another.
Simple ideas like one geography
teacher’s description of Syria is
shaped like a bowl of cereal, and
Jordan as a Nike Air Jordan Sneaker,
can stick with a student for decades.
If you’re trying to understand
It can help to visualize it as water.
Similarly, electrical voltage
can feel like pressure, a push.
As you climb to a more
of whatever topic you’re concentrating on,
you can revise your metaphors or
toss them away and
create more meaningful ones.
Metaphors and visualization, being able
to see something in your mind’s eye,
have been especially helpful
not only in art and literature,
but also in allowing the scientific and
engineering world to make progress.
In the 1800s for example, when chemists
began to imagine and visualize
the miniature world of molecules,
dramatic progress began to be made.
Here’s a fun illustration of monkeys in
a benzene ring from an insider spoof of
German academic chemical
life printed in 1886.
Note the single bonds with
the monkey’s hands and
the double bonds with
their tiny little tails.
It’s often helpful to pretend that you are
the concept you’re trying to understand.
Put yourself in anelectron’s warm and
fuzzy slippers as it burrows
through a slab of copper.
Or sneak inside the x of
an algebraic equation and
feel what it’s like to poke your
head out of the rabbit hole.
But just don’t let it get exploded
by an inadvertent divide by zero.
In chemistry, compare a cation
with a cat that has paws, and
is therefore paws-itive,
and anion with an onion that’s
negative because it makes you cry.
Metaphors are never perfect, but then,
in science, all models are just metaphors
which means they break down at some point.
But never mind that, metaphors and
models are often vitally important in
giving a physical understanding of
the central idea behind the process or
concept you’re trying to understand.
Interestingly, metaphors and
analogies are useful for
getting people out of einstellen.
That is, being blocked by thinking
about a problem in the wrong way.
For example, telling a simple story
of soldiers attacking a fortress from
many different directions at once can open
creative paths for students to see how
many low intensity rays can be effectively
used to destroy a cancerous tumor.
Stories, even if they’re just
using silly memory tricks,
can also allow you to more easily
retain what you’re trying to learn.
Metaphors also help glue
an idea into your mind,
because they make a connection to neural
structures that are already there.
It’s like being able to trace
a pattern with tracing paper,
metaphors at least help you get
a sense of what’s going on.
I’m Barbara Oakley, thanks for
learning how to learn.
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