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How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,513 Ratings  ·  491 Reviews
In the tradition of The Power of Habit and Thinking, Fast and Slow comes a practical, playful, and endlessly fascinating guide to what we really know about learning and memory today—and how we can apply it to our own lives.
From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Random House
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Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, education
According to Benedict Carey, a science reporter, the way we THINK we learn is actually very different from the way we ACTUALLY learn. About 95% of Carey’s book is a historical chronology of the clinical studies and science experiments that led to our current understanding of learning. The remaining 5% contains the useful points and strategies you need to be a better learner. Since I’m guessing almost all of us care very much about the useful 5% and very little of the historical 95%, I’ve boiled ...more
Riku Sayuj

Why So Serious

We all “know” we need to be organized, to develop good, consistent study routines, to find a quiet place and avoid distractions, to focus on one skill at a time, and above all, to concentrate on our work.

What’s to question about that?

Carey begins this book with the allegation that most of our instincts about learning are misplaced, incomplete, or flat wrong.

It goes like this:

Want to procrastinate? Good!
Can’t focus? Good!
No fixed schedule? Good!
Can’t study in a fixed place? Good!
Jay Williams
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most informative book I have read in years. I was amazed at the information it contains, and how it was written for ready comprehension. It stands the traditional ideas on learning on end, and provides a solid basis for the knowledge it provides. I especially liked the appendix which summarized the information from the entire book into practical guidelines for use. I will make sure many members of my family get a copy of this book. It is valuable for all ages.
Atila Iamarino
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recomendo esse livro para qualquer um interessado em aprender. Claro, bem explicado, com pesquisa recente e ótimos exemplos claros do que ajuda e atrapalha a aprender. Eu não fazia ideia da importância de esquecer no processo. Algumas recomendações que ajudam a aprender mais e lembrar com mais facilidade do que aprendemos:

Estudar em ambientes variados
Variar o tema de estudo em um mesmo dia. O mesmo vale para prática de esportes ou habilidades específicas.
Quebrar o tempo de estudo em mais dias, v
Another excellent book on learning science--

The book covers much of the same ground as Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning—desirable difficulty, the necessity of forgetting in learning, testing as a learning technique, illusion of knowing, and spaced & varied practice—but the emphasis is more on the practical side of learning and offers some concepts, studies, and insights not found in Make It Stick.

Some of the things I took away from this book and will be applying to my own l
I could go 3.5 stars easily, but not four as much of the book was review, not surprising (although my parents never, ever suggested when, where or how I should study!) I wanted to retitle the first half of this book "How We Memorize" as Carey dealt, in an engaging way, with studies on how we retain factual information. This is not the heart of my interest in deep learning -- and I think the topic is covered better and with better, useful techniques for memorization, in Moonwalking with Einstein. ...more
Leland Beaumont
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
As soon as we shift focus from teaching to learning, understanding how our brains acquire information becomes paramount. The easy going, storytelling style of this book belies its depth and importance; this is a book about how brain cells form, hold onto, and retrieve new information.

How we do learn often differs from how we may have been taught to learn. Schoolmarms would be very surprised to find out what actually works. Here are some of the unusual conclusions developed in the book:

+ Forgetti
Michael Nielsen
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An informative overview of research on memory, covering:

+ The enormous benefits of spaced repetition.
+ The benefits of being repeatedly tested (which sometimes greatly outweigh re-studying, even when you're not told the results)
+ The benefits of interleaving different types of material, and the remarkable fact that people believe they're learning less, but are actually learning much more.
+ The fluency illusion, i.e., the sense that people have that they're learning a lot when it's all going quic
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This is a rare book that, having listened to it, I want to buy as a hard copy to review.

There are a lot of ideas in here about ideal learning conditions, the research that backs them up, and the ways to make the most of one's brain. Fascinating and useful. I wish I'd listened to it before I took my boards exam. There were things I might have structured differently in my study plan.

I especially would like to have this on hand in the event that I'm involved in course design at some point. I think
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all of my teacher friends
Recommended to Jennifer by: MindShift
I’ve been reading a lot of books about the science of learning lately. It started a couple of years ago when I began using an article by Carol Dweck in my developmental reading/writing course—an article about fixed and growth mindset and about how such a small thing like what you believe about your own intelligence or ability can have a huge impact. My students both related to it as learners but sometimes as parents too. Since then, I have seen/read discussions of mindset everywhere and one nigh ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5--I wish my peers would read this and understand techniques that help children learn. Because I follow this kind of research quite a bit, there wasn't much here that I did not already know but I did appreciate Carey taking the time to explain the research behind the theories. This would be a great common book for college freshmen.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Carey's "How We Learn" challenges our traditional views of learning by discussing the experimental results from the science of learning. The book is thus very similar to "Make It Stick" by Brown et al. In my opinion, Carey's book is more readable but not quite as useful and informative as "Make It Stick."

Our traditional views about memorization, studying, and learning tend to focus on making learning easy: study in the same location, develop a study ritual, reduce distractions, then read, take n
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well...I spent 8 years teaching students useless study habits. 😕 Informative and eye opening, but I would have liked bulleted suggestions for improving learning at the end of each chapter.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of learning studies.
Take aways:
1. Forgetting then retrieval makes the memory

2. Recreate same state of mind/study environment -shake it up so that can redo in a variety of circumstances

3. Space out learn over time to remember more

4. “fluency illusion” easy to remember now and also later; to overcome consistently engage in self-testing as you go (ie. recite from memory as part of studying)

5. Pre-testing as study tool - even a wrong guess engages the mind in a more demanding way than mem
Filipe Ronzani
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sensacional, foca muito bem em como aprendemos, embora ele não seja um guia de como aprender, existem muitas dicas interessantes e não intuitivas nele como:
-É mais interessante estudar em lugares variados ao invés de um cantinho só do estudo.
-Alternar matérias é mais efetivo que estudar uma só (isso é intuitivo).
-Tentar resolver questões antes de aprender o assunto, mesmo errando quase todas te dá uma maior retenção do que você vai aprender.
-Estudo espaçado é o oque há- Melhor estudar 2 horas du
Peter Mcloughlin
Some good news about our bad habits of procrastination, distraction, sleep, and learning. All these items long considered enemies to accomplishment in academia and life may be well-disguised friends due to the quirky ways our mind actually learns. Argues a more laid-back approach may be more efficient in the end which is music to my ears probably most people as well so there is a bit of too good to be true in the story. not bad.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book started Chapter One with a fascinating question: why do people with brains split completely in half (surgery for severe epilepsy) still feel like one unified person?

The answer: somewhere in the left hemisphere, there is a system in our brains that researcher Michael Gazzaniga calls the "left brain interpreter". The interpreter what what puts together the story of our lives. Oh, and 'story' is truly the right word; the interpreter will make up bullshit to explain what it does not know!
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, research
As the sub-title mentions, the ideas preferred in the book is in fact surprising and goes against the conventional wisdom in learning that we have grown up with. Turning too many ideas on its head, through a mixture of cognitive research, social science experiments and philosophical detours Mr Carey presents a cogent and quite persuasive picture of how we can adapt ourselves to learn consistently and most efficiently while keeping our eyes and ears open for that cherished moments of creative daw ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4.5 Stars

To be honest, I've been looking for a book like this for a while. Not too long ago, I started reading “Thinking Fast and Slow”, but it couldn’t hold my attention long enough for me to finish it. I’ll admit, there were spots in this book that were a bit dry, but overall it was packed full of knowledge that was truly interesting. For instance, I really like how the author included a few brain teasers, as well as some truly bizarre brain experiments (splitting t
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How We Learn is almost a how-to book about what to do to learn better and faster. It turns out we're doing it all wrong.

Benedict Carey is a science reporter, and so he has experience taking complex or incomplete scientific concepts and making them crystal clear to the general public. Since we really still don't know much about how the brain works, that is, how it forms memories and recalls facts for instance, we're stuck with trial and error for the time being. Carey points to many interesting,
Jonathan Biddle
Excellent book that surveys the research over the last few centuries on how we learn and retain what we learn. The best part is that the information is actionable, whether you're just trying to expand the horizons of what you know or whether you are in academia.

"This much is clear: The mixing of items, skills, or concepts during practice, over the longer term, seems to help us not only see the distinctions between them but also to achieve a clearer grasp of each one individually. The hardest pa
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I had high hopes for this book. I’m terribly interested in how we learn, so it was the “how we learn” along with “the surprising truth” that intrigued me. Here’s the real truth: How We Learn covers “how we learn” moderately well, at least as well as my educational psychology class from 1976. But, sadly, I didn’t run across any surprises here. And, if you wish, we can attribute that to my keeping up with current learning theories rather well instead of failures of the book.
Kirsti Call
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What I liked: Benedict Carey does a fantastic job of gathering the data and presenting the results. I learned practical ways that will help me help my children learn as we embark on a homeschooling adventure this fall. The book is readable, interesting, and well written. After reading this I feel like I have concrete real life ways to enhance our learning! Yay!

Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this to teachers!
It has very helpful insights on how the brain learns and gives tips for understanding the fear of tests that we seem to have. If learning is the main goal of the school system, then why wouldn't we want to help the minds of students learn in the best way?
A very educative book! I truly liked and enjoyed reading it!
Very good one for either individuals, teachers or parents..

Experiments, theories and researches by scientists and psychologists trying to find the secrets behind how the human brain can learn something new and what best strategies to achieve the most promising results according to many experiments since the late 19th century!
Ami Iida
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: neuroscience
It is a book of the storage method.

It shows the effect of distributed learning.
Learning by dividing the time.
To learn to move location.
To learn while listening to music.

This book is commentary by their effect using the neuroscience.
It is a very, very ,very,etc........... useful book with respect to the storage method.
Joseph Wengerd
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting, well-placed book about the science behind how we learn. Looking at it from a former student's perspective, I see how I applied many of the strategies without knowing it, and they served me well. Thinking about it from a teacher's perspective, I am interested to see how I can incorporate the strategies into class to make learning more effective in the future.
Karen Chung
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you care about teaching or learning, do not deprive yourself of crucial information on how to do it better - hurry and read this book NOW!
Jerry Hillyer
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Author: Benedict Carey

Publisher: Random House

Year: 2014

Pages: 200 (e-Book (Nook), ARC; hardcover book 272)

[Disclaimer: I was provided an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my fair and unbiased review of this book. I was given no compensation and I am not required to write a positive review. I only tell you this because someone in the government thinks you need to know. To be sure, I don't even get to keep the book.]

The problem with reviewing this book is that I don't know enough
Jessica Lynch
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I didn't love it. I'm not shouting from the rooftop or anything, but it did provide some useful tips and insights into learning. The "fluency illusion," reminded me that to truly learn, it needs to be active. Passive rehearsal, review, re-reading, is not only often a waste of time, but creates a false sense of confidence, too- an automaticity that is dependent on narrow, concrete parameters.

When in doubt, quiz yourself. Test yourself. Get it wrong. And when you do, be in a
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add book cover - How We Learn 2 15 Aug 09, 2015 07:39PM  
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Benedict Carey was a health and medical reporter for the Los Angeles Times starting in 1997. In 2004 he became a science reporter for the New York Times.
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“The “losers” in memory competitions, this research suggests, stumble not because they remember too little. They have studied tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of words, and often they are familiar with the word they ultimately misspell. In many cases, they stumble because they remember too much. If recollecting is just that—a re-collection of perceptions, facts, and ideas scattered in intertwining neural networks in the dark storm of the brain—then forgetting acts to block the background noise, the static, so that the right signals stand out. The sharpness of the one depends on the strength of the other.” 1 likes
“Napping is sleep, too. In a series of experiments over the past decade, Sara Mednick of the University of California, San Diego, has found that naps of an hour to an hour and half often contain slow-wave deep sleep and REM. People who study in the morning—whether it’s words or pattern recognition games, straight retention or comprehension of deeper structure—do about 30 percent better on an evening test if they’ve had an hour-long nap than if they haven’t. “It’s changed the way I work, doing these studies,” Mednick told me. “It’s changed the way I live. With naps of an hour to an hour and half, we’ve found in some experiments that you get close to the same benefits in learning consolidation that you would from a full eighthour night’s sleep.” 1 likes
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