I had an idea to go deep into the niches I’m really interested in. Structuring this ongoing learning list will motivate me to keep learning and develop a real opinion on each topic. Honestly, I didn’t know what to call this then I came across Eloho’s article on reading in clusters.
“This year, using a framework that I’m calling “curiosity clusters”, I’ve built my reading list around four book clusters. Each cluster is centred on a different idea.” – Eloho
Clusters will help you master the ideas and the niche you’re interested in. When you learn from multiple books, essays and courses on the same topic, you begin to make unique connections.
The Curiosity Trope
A key component to independent-mindedness is curiosity. Being more interesting. That’s what people usually feeling before having that light bulb idea, it’s where novel ideas come from. When you learn in sets with genuine curiosity, you’ll ultimately begin to connect different mental frameworks about that niche.
Following our interests, curiosity and intuition involves doing the actual work of reading, thinking, discussing, and taking notes. Understanding a system first is necessary. It provides something tangible to use as a starting point. If you try to start a creative effort from nothing, you’ll end up with mere chaos.
Dennett writes: “Sit down at a piano and try to come up with a good new melody and you soon discover how hard it is. All the keys are available, in any combination you choose, but until you can find something to lean on, some style or genre or pattern to lay down and exploit a bit, or allude to before you twist it, you will come up with nothing but noise.”
Curiosity is individual, choosing a topic for your cluster is entirely unique to you. It can start with a tweet you saw, a recurring theme you’ve noticed or a particular niche you’re interested in.
Learning in clusters helps you get into the state of flow. It offers you the opportunity to do deep work. I know I’ve experienced the feeling of flow , the moment when I’m fully focused on a task. I lose all sense of time and the work seems to flow effortlesly. This rewarding feeling of flow is best described by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
We rarely reach this state because we’re used to working pontificated by distractions. “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive ability to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skills, and are hard to replicate. Deep work is hard and shallow work is easier and in the absence of clear goals for your job, the visible busyness that surrounds shallow work becomes self-preserving.”-Cal Newport. The clear goal is this learning cluster you’re going to build.
Building My Learning Cluster
I decided to go deep into these topics I’m interested in. I’m tired of surface-level learning and consumption and I’ve tailored each niche with materials that’ll help me go deep.
- The first five areas of study I’ve chosen are:
- Art and Creativity
- Media and Writing
- Neuroscience and Mind
- Science and Engineering
Tailor your interests and passions when choosing a topic and don’t worry about getting all the materials in order. It can be an ever-growing cluster.
“Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.” – Mark Twain