fiverulescoverAt the core of the Greater Sum software apprenticeship program is exposure to ideas and techniques that accelerate learning, and therefore accelerate careers.  We read and discuss a book each week, often a book that isn’t technical, but instead focuses on learning, teamwork or some other aspect of being a software developer that is as important as understand the latest Javascript library.

This past week we discussed The Five Rules of Accelerated Learning by Willem and Diana Larsen.  This mother/son duo has a lot of experience with helping groups and teams improve their processes around learning in many diverse settings.  They’ve brought their combined experience to highlight the Five Rules that they use to create effective learning experiences.

I’ve asked our current apprentices to write some reflections on their experience with the content of the book!


Reading “The Five Rules of Accelerated Learning” helped draw my attention to concepts and practices seem easy in concept but prove difficult to consistently implement.  For example I know that when I debrief with myself or someone else after finishing a book, video, class, or lecture I will remember the information better but when I finish a book I almost immediately pick up another one without time to reflect.  Concepts from this book that I will make an effort to integrate into my learning environment are:

  • Learn by doing – take the information that I learned from a book or online class and immediately work to implement it into a real world project.
  • Increase or decrease the complexity of the task I am working on to make sure I am consistently making progress at a good rate.
  • Fail fast – keep the feedback loop of what I am working on small so that I can experiment with what works instead of thinking in hypotheticals.
  • Debrief – I will try to align my learning with someone else so that after we finish we can both reflect on what we learned and hold each other accountable for learning.

-Matthew Knowles   


The Five Rules of Accelerated Learning helped me realize the importance of taking an active role in creating a proper environment and mindset while learning. The proper environment sets the stage for learning, frees you from distractions, and lets you focus on the content. The proper mindset keeps you engaged in the material and pushes you to continually move forward. Keeping things energetic and designing manageable pieces of learning help build this engagement. To really learn though, you have to do it for real, taking what you’ve read or heard and put it into practice.

-Wes Duncan  


To continue growing as a life-long-learner, The 5 Rules of Accelerated Learning is a nice resource. It has a succinct format of stating the author’s rules that should be applied to the learning process to provide the best learning opportunity possible.

Because learning takes energy, rule number 1 is building “ALIVEness” into the learning environment and experience. This boosts the energy available for learning, which builds my attention for learning as well as the experience itself.

The other rules follow suit and build upon the rule of “ALIVEness”. Each rule is also independently applicable to learning activities and can be utilized as the situation dictates to foster, energize, and focus learning opportunities. It is a fun exercise to continue applying these rules to life and learning environments to see growth in exciting new ways.

I look forward to building these 5 rules into my learning activities and watching my practice grow into fluency.

-Peter Flanagan   

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