100 online courses

“After 73 days of self-paced learning, I’ve become a firm believer that learning, or more importantly, knowledge, should never be a privilege, it is a right.

While we should all work towards a particular goal in our career (in my case, to become a doctor and find ways to improve our public healthcare systems), my insight from taking these courses has made me realise that we should not limit ourselves to just our career-centric fields alone.

Because we are the sum of what we learn, in school, at work and in life.”

The quote is from this interesting article about a girl who took 100 online courses during 73 days of COVID lockdown. Oddly inspiring!


I have realised that I prefer to be a student rather than a teacher. There’s less pressure and I get to ask questions rather than provide answers. And I can fail as much as I want to—it’s almost the imperative of a student to fail, in order to stumble her way towards learning more.

But in the end every student is a teacher and every teacher (if she wants to be effective) is a student.

We must maintain an openness and a love and hunger for life-long learning. If we stop learning, we become birds whose wings are clipped.

We cannot fly without our wings.

A list of potential ultralearning projects

Here are some ideas on my own want-to-ultralearn backburner list:

– Making my own electronic music (releasing an album of electronic music, a la Lullatone)
– Editorial design (creating layouts for books and magazines)
– Illustrating and writing a children’s book
– Making a short film
– Creating an online course
– Creating an app
– Writing a book
– Building my blog from scratch

I’ll update this whenever a new one comes to mind!

Learning is about doing

Very good ideas from Scott Young about how to learn and build skills that matter:

Don’t just learn French, aim to have conversations with people.
Don’t just read a book on JavaScript, build a functioning website.
Don’t just watch lectures, do practice problems from the exam.
Don’t just read philosophy, write an essay or discuss it with someone else.

Relevant reading:
How to start your own ultralearning project (part one)
How to start your own ultralearning project (part two)

thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building

“Dear Bard students,

Welcome to Bard College! You are now a part of the academic universe of thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building. Your first class will be Language & Thinking (L&T), which begins on Monday, August 15th. All Bard freshman experience L&T, a two-week immersion into thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building, thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building, thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building, thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building, thinking, reading, writing, discussing and knowledge-building.

For our first class, you should read the book, Citizen by Claudia Rankin, and the hand-out, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Both of these readings should be in your new folder (or at least with it).

Looking forward to Monday. Be ready to think, read, write, discuss and knowledge-build, think, read, write, discuss and knowledge-build, think, read, write, discuss and knowledge-build, think, read, write, discuss and knowledge-build, think, read, write, discuss and knowledge-build.”

Watching College Behind Bars and this made me smile!

Find out more about the Bard Prison Initiative here.

Learn for the sake of learning

Learn so you can more easily change careers and life paths and become more self-actualized.

But learn also for the sake of learning.

Learn because it’s fun. There doesn’t need to be utility involved. If you want to pick up Latin but wonder when you might ever get to use it, the answer is — maybe never. But should that stop you from learning it?

Pick up a skill if it’s something you’re curious about and if it’s fun and you’re enjoying yourself.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

You can learn anything

“Nobody’s born smart. We all start at zero. Can’t talk, can’t walk, certainly can’t do algebra. Adding, reading, writing, riding a bike, nobody’s good at anything at first. There was a time when Einstein couldn’t count to 10 and Shakespeare had to learn his ABCs just like the rest of us. Thankfully, we’re born to learn. Slowly, surely, you stumble, slip, crawl, fall, and fail, and fall. Frustrating, confusing, trying, struggling, until one day, you walk. One foot in front of the other. One idea on top of the next. Each wrong answer making your brain a little bit stronger. Failing is just another word for growing. And you keep going. This is learning. Knowing that you’ll get it, even if you haven’t got it yet. Because the most beautiful, complex concepts in the whole universe are built on basic ideas that anyone anywhere can understand. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you only have to know one thing, you can learn anything.”


The world is constantly changing, and sometimes the changes are seismic and overwhelming.

At times like these, it can be helpful to remember we are an incredibly adaptable species. We have dominated the world in such a dramatic fashion precisely because we can adapt to almost any environment.

The heart of being adaptable is the ability to learn new things. It’s comforting to know that I am hardwired to learn, because this means — in theory — that I can survive anything this world throws at me, as long as I keep adapting and learning new skills.

No matter what problems we have, it is my deep belief that we can learn our way out of them.

If we are chronically unhappy, we might want to learn about our mind and our brain. David Eagleman has written wonderfully accessible books about neuroscience that will open your eyes to the “tremendous magic” of the three-pound tofu encased in our skull. From our studies about the brain, we might learn that we are not always “the ones driving the boat of our behaviour”. When we understand that, we might no longer be so hard on ourselves whenever we feel bad or angry or anxious.

If we want to learn how to thrive mentally, we can pick up meditation or dive into the research that’s being done across psychology, neuroscience and contemplative practices like Buddhism. We might learn about the conclusions by scientists that “when your mind changes, your brain changes”. Learning about these ideas — that we don’t always have to be a puppet to our emotions — might convince us to commit to training our minds in the direction of more peace and happiness.

If we are stuck in a dead-end job or don’t enjoy our career, we can choose to learn new skills — we can add new knowledge to what we already know or reinvent ourselves entirely. Then we can use these new skills to get out of our dead-end job. Or start a business. Or pursue a new career path. We might think that our brains can no longer change now that we’re older, or that we might not be able to learn anything of much value with our older and slower brains, but research has shown that our brain is a muscle that grows stronger the more we use it.

So eventually it is not our lack of ability (or the lack of neurons) but often our misguided belief that we are doomed to be stagnant that causes so much of our suffering.

In short, we can learn anything, and use the skills we learn to change our lives, no matter what age we are and at which stage of life we find ourselves in, but first we have to believe that we can.

Small commitments, big results

Comment ça va?

I’m on day 13 of my streak on Duolingo (I’m learning French!) but someone on the forum just posted about their 5-year streak, which is nothing but inspiring!

He or she writes on the forum:

“I remember when I hit 365 days…then one year became two, then two became three, and now here we are at FIVE years. it blows my mind! I’ve come close to losing my streak due to a lack of internet in some places during my travels. In fact, I distinctly remember only a few months into my streak, on one vacation, I had only an hour of internet access a day, and you better believe the first thing I did was Duolingo!!

The act of making a commitment to something small can have other effects in your life, that cause you to be committed to other things…whether it’s exercise, eating healthier, drinking more water, etc…these goals are all achievable if you start with small commitments. Do not commit to to a five year streak at day 1. Commit to one day. Then two. Then a week. Then a month.”

A very good reminder that a strong commitment to small things over a sustained period can lead to big results. Oh and the beautiful idea of a keystone habit.

PS: What a nice and thoughtfully written blog.