I’m a big fan of YouTuber Ali Abdaal, his ex-PA now turned YouTuber Elizabeth Flipis has a great channel. She creates content about herself living in London while studying Medschool.

Her latest video You’re Not Stupid: How to Easily Learn Difficult Things caught my attention. As someone who feels dumb 90% of the time, this is perfect, and the timing couldn’t be better as I’m learning computer science and programming.

More specifically, a thing called object-oriented programming (OOP) is really hard for me to understand. So, I thought a following along with her video would help me learn OOP.

Disclaimer, refer to Elizabeth’s video for better detail on her outlined steps. I don’t claim to own the concepts and ideas presented in her video.

Prep Your Brain

Elizabeth’s video has six parts, I’m simplifying them here by combing the first and last three parts together, respectively.

  1. Context-Broadening: find ‘real-world’ stories to make a topic exciting which increases curiosity and emotional interest.
  2. Dopamine Priming: when excited, this builds desire, and finds more relatable aspects of the topic.
  3. Singular Deep Dive: in the article or story, find an adjacent topic to dive into further.

Alright, let’s use my topic of OOP, the first step is to search and selects the news section. I found “Robotic eyes unconstrained by human perception” which caught my attention, and after reading, well, listening via Speechify, I was surprised to see how OOP is being used in the real world. Here’s an amazing article about robots being trained via AI, machine learning and neural networks with OOP being involved.

Okay, unlike Elizabeth’s example in her video, I can’t find a story per se, the article I read was more facts presented in a well-written format. So then, there’s no emotional investment as of yet. The next step is dopamine priming, the best I can do here is “robotics/AI/neural networks are cool, can change the world”? Again, there’s no dramatic story that has me hooked on OOP being super important and something I must understand.

Instead of searching for another story, I’ve powered on and used the third step of a singular deep dive into Artificial Intelligence (AI). Now there are more stories around AI like “Artificial intelligence on the hunt for illegal nuclear material.” Um, awesome, here’s how the hunt for criminals illegally sending/receiving nuclear materials is being tracked, that’s insane. This is a much better article for me to get emotionally invested in to learn OOP.

Do The Thing

Right, with my brain being prepped to learn OOP, now let’s look at the next three areas Elizabeth covers.

  1. Challenge Sandwich: either do a project/lecture/quiz around the topic.
  2. Getting Broody: acknowledge the topic will take longer to absorb.
  3. False Deadlines: spend more time repeating the topic in various ways.

Great, with those in mind, using OOP, which I still don’t understand or know anything about. Besides, of course, it’s being used in AI to help track down the bad guys in Back to the Future Part 1.

For me, it was a case of going back to the course lecture from CS50P and following along with the professor as they coded. I found that I was more engaged and followed along much better than I did before. I felt like I had a much clearer head, and less brain fog to focus and I finally managed to get through the entire 4-hour lecture.

Honestly, however, this is where Elizabeth’s video sort of fell apart for me to a degree, I wasn’t associating any of the articles I read with what I was learning. Know this may just come down to the fact I’m learning something very different to what she uses as an example in her video. Or perhaps I haven’t read the right story or article to do this process. However, so far, this hasn’t made learning OOP easier overall.

Reflection + Next Steps

I love Elizabeth’s content and will continue to watch her videos, this hasn’t been a reflection on her at all. I think she has a great process that works well for her, I also think it can be adapted to work well for me too.

Even within this article, her steps can be highly refined and simplified to better fit in with how I learn. I don’t think breaking everything up is necessarily the best way for this, I prefer two clear steps.

This is in part because I find researching difficult, which most others may not, but I can’t help but get distracted while reading all the different articles. I’m finding a combination of neuro scientific music and Pomodoro focus techniques is helping with these tasks.

All in all, OOP still stands as a difficult topic, I wouldn’t say this process made it easy. But, I did learn the value of searching news articles and broadening my context on a single topic. I’m absolutely going to do more of this when new topics arise and/or when I’m stuck on a particular topic.

Don’t forget to check out Elizabeth’s channel, and subscribe if you like it. Thanks for reading, until next time.