Are you trying to master a subject? If you answered yes, mastering any subject matter takes a commitment of anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 hours (Read the article Did Malcolm Gladwell Rip Me Off? by Michael Masterson), depending on which statistics you decide to believe. To begin the process of mastering a subject, answer the questions below. While you are reading the books identified at the library, record the information in the Subject Mastery Template.
How to Read to Master a Subject
- Describe the specific knowledge that you are trying to acquire
- On a blank sheet of paper do a brain dump for 15 minutes, writing down as much as you know about the topic
- List the pioneers and subject matter experts in the field. Have they written any books on the subject?
- Compile a bibliography of books that could potentially help to master the subject?
- List books written by pioneers and subject matter experts
- Check the bibliography of books written by pioneers and subject matter experts
- Ask colleagues for book recommendations
- Check the bibliography of scholarly journals and books on the topic
- Search the catalogues, or ask a librarian at a good reference library to find titles
- Spend half a day at the library inspectingthe books listed in the compiled bibliography to:
- Whittle down the number of titles on the list
- Get a cursory understanding of the topic
- Determine which books say anything important about the topic of interest
- With a cursory understanding of the subject:
- Identify the 10 core concepts/ideas that form the basis of the subject
- Clarify the information that you are seeking. Distinguish between ‘must know’ and ‘nice to know’
- How will you know when you have found the answers?
- Inspect the books identified as relevant
- Find the most relevant passages and record page numbers
- By author, record the information that covers each of the 10 core concepts/ideas (Refer to the Subject Mastery Template)
- Read and analyze all the information gathered
- Distill the information germane to the subject
- Compare and contrast the information on each of the 10 core concepts/ideas
- Interpret the 10 core concepts/ideas
- Concentrate on understanding the core concepts/ideas
- Search online for a site that offer tests on the subject and take the test
 Refer to How To Read A Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading to find out how to quickly inspect a book.
Subject Mastery Template
Title of the Book/Author
Why is Author Qualified to Answer?
Key Concept 1
Key Concept 2
Key Concept 3
Key Concept 4
Key Concept 5
Conclusions by Authors
What are the Weaknesses of the Authors’ Arguments, Evidence and Conclusions?
And whatever you learn, be sure to teach it to others so that you can cement the information into your memory. Let me know what you think about the questions. I am committed to assist you on your professional development journey. If there are additional ways that I may be of service please let me know.
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