As an educator, I am always thinking about things I can do to learn better, and to help my students to learn better. On one hand, there is a traditionAs an educator, I am always thinking about things I can do to learn better, and to help my students to learn better. On one hand, there is a tradition of inherited wisdom that we all use to learn and teach, and in most cases, that wisdom works. On the other, there are methods, old and new, that some swear help ideas and knowledge stick, and we can see how the disagreements play out in schools and in government plans to improve them.
That said, this book is not the solution to all those problems. What it is is a look at some research, old and new, and what it suggests about memory and learning. The focus is not so much on prestigious acts of memory, such as those featured in Moonwalking With Einstein, but rather on everyday vocabulary lists and math problems that we face in school or in any learning endeavor. The ideas are simple, and many will not be a surprise, but if I had to give the diverse chapters (on, for example, spacing out study, taking breaks effective testing, and getting subconscious processes involved) is on slowing down to make learning stick. Modern classrooms and workplaces tend to cram the day with as much as possible, but long-term learning and creativity often depend on returning to old material, switching topics, or simply getting a good night's rest.
Carey looks at his own past, in school and in life since then, but the bulk of his material comes from science- theory and studies. Of course, so many of these topics, especially things like creativity, are difficult to study, and there is much work to be done to better understand just what goes into memory and learning. There are more questions unanswered than answered, but I left the book with some ideas for how to better learn and teach, and I can recommend this book as a quick introduction to the science of learning circa 2014....more
Susan Pinker's book is all about how important it is to spend time with people- which may have you wondering how she wrote a whole book about it. It tSusan Pinker's book is all about how important it is to spend time with people- which may have you wondering how she wrote a whole book about it. It turns out there's a whole world of research that looks into how meaningful human contact benefits us in a host of ways, from health and longevity to social contagion and infant-mother bonding. Pinker walks us through the research, from the Sardinian villages where men live as long as women to the social networking sites that don't seem to provide the same benefits as talking face-to-face, to the ways that a healthy lifestyle or obesity can spread through social circles. In an age of cell phones and Facebook, and declining participation in social gatherings like bowling leagues and PTAs, we may be losing out on just what we'll need when we suffer some setbacks- losing a job, or spouse, or facing down cancer, and Pinker makes a good case for why we should all call a friend, join a swim team, and just relax with family- you probably want to anyway, but this book backs that desire up with some surprising science....more