Elon Musk's 2 Rules for Learning

I saw this article and Medium and it’s not revelatory but thought it was interesting with how it connects to Obsidian:


  1. Build a baseline knowledge of a subject, the ‘trunk’ of a subject
    “One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

  2. You can’t remember what you can’t connect
    “Musk never learns a piece of information at random. Everything he intakes, he connects back to some deeper, more solid base.”

Thought it was interesting to see how these two principles are core to Obsidian. Particularly when you layer in a LYT (@nickmilo) approach.


Regarding the first point, I have a note in my collection titled “Match Problem in Learning” with this

Another way to think about this is to imagine your learning as a house of cards. The cards at the bottom are your foundational knowledge. You can get away with missing some of the foundational knowledge, but if too much is missing than your house of cards collapses.

This is important because it causes problems in education where we don’t hold kids back or make the learning individual enough to ensure proper foundations are built. This can be remedied later on in life if the person is particularly industrious and decides to teach themselves (e.g. story of Engineering Professor Barbara Oakley).

Regarding the second point, that makes sense because our mind works based off of networks of neurons. As far as I’m aware you can’t bring a piece of information into conciousness without first having a retrieval cue (APA Dictionary). Its a well established learning strategy called Elaboration.

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