The how of learning is deliberate practice. Hours of deliberate practice were a factor of 6 more effective than hours of regular practice (playing tournament games).
Deliberate Practice in Mathematics:
For example, in school and college, to develop mathematics and science expertise, we must somehow think deeply about the problems and reflect on what did and did not work. One method comes from the physicist John Wheeler (the PhD advisor of Richard Feynman). Wheeler recommended that, after we solve any problem, we think of one sentence that we could tell our earlier self that would have “cracked” the problem. This kind of thinking turns each problem and its solution into an opportunity for reflection and for developing transferable reasoning tools.
Deliberate Practice in Chess:
For chess, deliberate practice includes deep analysis of grandmaster games. You take an annotated grandmaster chess game — say, from Bobby Fisher’s My 60 Memorable Games — make the first few moves, then cover up the grandmaster analysis and try to figure out the move the grandmaster is about to make. If your candidate move matches the grandmaster move, great — move on to the next position in the game! If they do not match, try to figure out what the grandmaster understood that you did not. If you cannot figure it out, study the analysis in the annotations. Then repeat from step 1 with the next position.
The Role of Motivation:
Deliberate practice requires sustained concentration, and the rewards are subtle and apparent only in the long term. Thus, one needs motivation in order to enter into and sustain the hard work of deliberate practice. But the learning happens not simply through putting in the hours, but through doing so intelligently.