A Quiet Revolution in Learning Theory

BarroMetrics Views: A Quiet Revolution in Learning Theory

As traders we have , or at least, ought to have a fascination with learning theory. We are after all in a game where ‘constant and never-ending improvement’ (CANI) is the watchword. Since 2006 a quiet revolution has been in progress. It started with Anders Ericsson’s works. Ericsson is a psychologist who did cutting edge work in the area of expertise. For a long time, the ‘bible’ in this area was the book he edited and co-authored  Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.

That is not an easy book to read and in October 2000, Geoff Colvin brought Ericsson’s learning model within the reach of the layman. He wrote,
Talent is Overrated. Then in May 2009, Daniel Coyle publicised the neurological foundations of Ericsson’s model and took the model another step forward. (See The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle).

Figure 1 is my MindMap of Coyle’s overall process. Figure 2 is the Mindmap of the process  Coyle calls ‘Deep Practice’.

Tomorrow, I will  consider the overall process and on Monday, the process of  ‘Deep Practice’; but tonight I want to introduce ‘Myelin‘.

If you read the Myelin link, I wonder if you had the same reaction I had when I first read the Wikipedia’s explanation – ??!!!Uggghhh!!!?? The neurological explanations went right over my head. But according to Coyle this is what Myelin is and what it does:

whenever we have a thought, action or feeling,  we create an electrical  circuit in our neurons – what is commonly known as the neuron pathways of our brain. Myelin is an insulation that wraps itself around the circuit each time it is fired. The thicker the insulation, the faster, the stronger and the more accurate the circuit.

With the discovery of Myelin, we have a neurological basis for the formation of habits and more: we have a neurological basis for mastery. Myelin also explains why it takes time for mastery to be attained – it’s because Myelin takes time to form, it forms only when we trigger the circuit.

So the bad news is: despite any claim you may read about or hear about, you cannot be an overnight success; that’s because the skills necessary for success depend on Myelin and that takes time to form. The good news is,  Coyle’s model increases Myelin’s rate of growth 100 times.

Stay tuned!

(Figure 3 is a diagram of Myelin)


Figure 1 Overall Process


Figure 2 Deep Practice Process


Figure Myelin Sheath

3 thoughts on “A Quiet Revolution in Learning Theory”

  1. thanks, Ray for the reminder. I read Ericcson’s some years back and though, hmmm good stuff but not easy read. inafct I send a copy to my nephew who is ajunior in US tennis league. Will take a look at Coyle’s works…

  2. Hi Joe

    Thanks for your comment.

    Yep, the journals in which the new discoveries are reported are difficult to read – at least speaking for myself. Hence my gratitude to authors like Colvin and Coyle: they brought critical information to the layman.

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