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Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  486 ratings  ·  76 reviews
For centuries, experts have argued that learning was about memorizing information: You're supposed to study facts, dates, and details; burn them into your memory; and then apply that knowledge at opportune times. But this approach to learning isn’t nearly enough for the world that we live in today, and in Learn Better journalist and education researcher Ulrich Boser demons ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Rodale Books
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Ulrich
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me be honest: I’m a biased reviewer. In fact, I wrote this book. But GoodReads is giving me the chance to say a few words, and other people whose opinions that I trust have been saying good things about the book. Publisher's Weekly called Learn Better "engaging" and "thought-provoking,” while author Walter Isaacson said the book was "alternately humorous, surprising, and profound.”

My goals with the book were pretty simple, and I aimed to translate the new science of learning, to make it more
...more
Manuel Antão
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Professor of Something: "Learn Better" by Ulrich Boser

“The act of writing is a good example of metacognition because when we think about composing sentences and paragraphs, we’re often asking ourselves crucial metacognitive questions: Who will be reading this? Will they understand me? What things do I need to explain? This is why writing is often such an effective way to organize one’s thoughts. It forces us to evaluate our arguments
...more
Matt Root
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
There's good content here. But it's one of those 'popular science' books that's about 90% anecdotes. Some people learn well from this way of writing, but I find it tiresome.
Dillon
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty good - I think it was longer than it needed to be, but the examples did a good job of illustrating the benefits of putting into action the methods described within each chapter. So the ways we learn better are:
value - see the value in what you're learning. If your disengaged out of principle, it's unlikely you'll learn much in your activity. If you're not interested, you're telling your brain not to learn.
target - know what it is you want to learn and target your learning goals every sess
...more
Amy
It was okay. Some useful content but not well written and in desperate need of a better editor. Frequent typos, absent or poorly placed words hampered meaning and discredited the author's claims of expertise. Could have easily been summarized in one well-written blog post rather than filling a whole book.
Charlie
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Learning is a skill. You can get better at it. Boser can help you discover how.

This is a readable, well-paced, organized introduction to the scientific literature on learning. Occasionally a bit heavy on anecdote (much like Malcolm Gladwell), but overall quite informative. It focuses mostly on the big picture, explaining in a general sense how learning occurs and how to structure your approach to learning in a global sense. Some specific practices are recommended, such as spaced repetition and
...more
Tara
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teach-at-home
I enjoyed reading this. There's some very valuable information and examples on better learning techniques. Some are very obvious but...

I recommend!!
Jules
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The biggest issue I had with the book is that it never seemed to know if it was geared at school learning (students, teachers, parents, etc) or adult learning (learning new skills, information, etc). There would be long passages about adult learning (what I'm interested in) that would end in 'and this is how it applies to a chemistry test.' Some of the examples were condescending (I bet you don't know the capital of Australia! Or how a toilet works!) and while the little pop quizzes illustrated ...more
Nathan Powell
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book takes a very well-rounded approach to learning how to learn. Most others in this space focus on one particular set of scientific research to prove their point and miss the broader picture of how to learn effectively.

Although there are six chapters, each focusing on a different phase of the learning process, my takeaways can be summed up in three key points:

1. Motivation(we need deeply personal reasons for why we are studying our topic)
2. Relation(relate ideas to other ideas to think de
...more
Mars Cheung
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Learning material from a vast assortment of various subjects (languages, history, politics, science) ranging from the obscure to the controversial in order to be able to understand and engage in conversation has been a great interest of mine. Being able not only to take in but assimilate stores of information and draw inferences is a skill that anyone could spend more time honing.

I enjoyed the book for some perspectives it offered on how 'learning' occurs and what are some tools/strategies/metho
...more
Bud Winn
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting read. Good examples and some vignettes. Framework looks promising - will play around with it.
Anthony Amore
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In "Learn Better," Ulrich Boser has written one of those books that isn't just remarkably well-written and sourced (though it is), but is also a must-read for educators, public policy leaders, administrators, and anyone interested in how we learn. The writing is accessible--entertaining, even--and hard to put down. I think this book will ultimately be that rare work that is commonly known by name in college classrooms and school departments around the country.
Jaron Dunford
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-business
6 forms of learning:
• Value – It’s impossible to learn if we don’t want to learn, and to gain expertise, we have to see skills and knowledge as valuable. What’s more, we have to create meaning. Learning is a matter of making sense of something.
• Target – In the early part of gaining mastery, focus is key. We need to figure out exactly what we want to learn and set goals and targets.
• Develop – Some forms of practice make people more perfect than others. In this stage of learning, people need to
...more
Ali
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I ignored the warning of reviewers about a book and got it anyway because it happened to be the Amazon Editor's Pick for Best Science Book of the Year. Well, it's actually kinda mediocre, especially compared to such powerhouses as Magness & Stulberg's Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success, Benedict Carey's How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code: ...more
Daniel Connolly
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Near the end of Ulrich Boser's book "Learn Better," he quotes a cognitive scientist: "If education were in the same realm as medicine, we would still be doing bloodletting with leeches."

This quote illustrates a central point of "Learn Better": that most people have never learned to learn, and most teachers have not learned how to teach.

"As an example, consider the word 'studying,'" Boser writes.

"It's a remarkably vague expression. Does studying mean rereading a textbook? Doing sample problems?
...more
Ziyad Khesbak
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Ultimately, it is lacking in writing quality and meanders with its stories, following formulaic non-fiction format of "This person knows ____. He is a ___ at ___ University and studies ____. Once upon a time, he was ____ and wondered ____, which led him to study ____ and discover ____." Over and over.

Regardless, Boser provides a narrative format to learning research better served in a well-structured text such as "The ABCs of Learning" which I absolutely loved and does a more robust job of inte
...more
Linda
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Learning Better,” by Ulrich Boser, forces us all to think about learning in new and creative ways. He is humble with his own personal story of learning; sharing how learning was a struggle for him, how he thought of himself as slow. He reminds us how parents who just won’t give up on their children, and teachers who take time to care, can make an enormous difference in our lives. His concept of thinking about thinking is just one of the many ways he challenges us to learn better and challenges ...more
Sofia
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great book! I would have given it 5 stars, however there were so MANY TYPOS!!!! I loved the different stories and analogies. The quizzes were really helpful and the book inspired me to look at learning in new ways. Loved it!!!!

I also want to remember from this book the lesson of overconfidence from General Custer, where in his final battle, losing to thousands of Natives he said as his last words, "We've got them now boys!!"

Another good lesson was the clenched fist and how to open it.
...more
Jarrett Crusor
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book that provides good supporting research

While I have heard some of the information before in different places this book puts together a solid framework to help reframe how should approach learning. The first step is to put aside what the habits you have learned going through K-12 education as they tend to focus more on rote learning which is not a long term benefit. Instead you should look to interact and engage with what you are learning. This is something the book drives home we
...more
Kim
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is full of good information. Unfortunately, the writing is pretty awful. Boser jumps around between facts and anecdotes without considering his reader; the lack of flow is distracting and has the unfortunate effect of being jerked around on an old wooden roller coaster. For a book about learning, there were also a surprising number of instances where his points were either unclear or misleading. If you are a learner, parent or teacher interested in how to apply the findings in this boo ...more
Sergio Galván
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books
Finally I finish this book, I almost quit a couple of times, probably no the type of lecture you pick in bed. The book has some good advice regarding how to engage with any new learning activity.

- Always try to ask yourself what you know about the subject/thing you want to learn.
- Ask questions to yourself, this helps to secure the concepts.
- Engage active learning, quiz yourself for instance using flashcards (Anki)
- Don't be overconfident, this leads to a lot of errors.
- Review, and leave space
...more
Susanne
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The author's style reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's books in that he provides many stories/anecdotes to illustrate the ways we can learn more efficiently, which makes it an appealing read. The tool kit in the back of the book provides a mini summary of the steps: find value, create targets, develop knowledge, extend expertise, relate skills and rethink. But reading the whole book gives much further insight into the why and how.
Tom
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The examples given in the book were fantastic with enough detail that I understood what was going on, but not so much detail that I got bored reading it.

He did a great job of explaining learning methods throughout the book and then would point them out again as he explained new ideas and examples.

I was able to get a lot out of this book and the guide in the back will be a great resource to use as a refresher.
Kaye Garcia
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good and engaging read for anyone interested to understand the science of learning process and to those who are keen to develop learning strategies. Although I did get a lot of useful insights, I have to admit that this book would've been better if it was longer and more all-inclusive in illustrating the different learning strategies outlined within chapters.

And as the author writes, "Highlighting passages in a book doesn't help learn the material.".
Eileen
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Another must read for everyone including teachers, parents, and anyone who wants to dive into the learning process. There were lots of stories and facts. There were strategies to learn better or to teach to the needs of our learners or ourselves. There is a chapter on each of the learning steps discussed-Value, Target, Develop, Extend, Relate, Rethink. Eager to put what I have learned into practice soon with learning something new (I have an idea for that too!).
Nguyễn Đăng khoa
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book mostly promotes learning by practice strategy and emotional effect. I read this book reversely, master-detail manner. I read the Toolkits/Summary chapter firstly then detail chapters later. If I felt interested in any technique, I would dive deep into the detail in that chapter. Especially, I like chapter 1 and chapter 3 most. I would recommend it to parents to teach our children learn how to learn at the very early stage of their life.
Kimberly
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book and found the information interesting. However, I'm a knitter, an advanced beginner, maybe an intermediate knitter. I read this book expecting actionable steps to take in order to become an advanced knitter. What I came away with was to just do it, take on a big project, make mistakes, work through them, learn from them and then practice some more. This is, of course, useful information but not exactly what I was expecting.
C. Patrick G. Erker
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book provides valuable access to academic thinking in the science of learning. It is definitely a summary of other thinkers' work vs. new analysis, but is nevertheless a highly useful guide to some of the techniques that can be used to maximize learning outcomes at home, at work, and in society.

I would suggest reading the toolkits at the end of the book before reading the main text, as the toolkits summarize what's in the book and can thus prime you for what to expect. (Plus, you learn be
...more
J. Bradley
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been in the adult learning field for 12 years and I'm always interested in keeping up with the latest trends so I can design and facilitate better learning experiences.

There were a lot of "I was already doing that" moments as a instructional designer and as a trainer but there were some really good a-ha moments that have made me rethink some of my design and facilitation approaches. If you are someone who loves to learn or loves to help people learn, this is a book worth reading.
Vanessa
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. I believe every parent, educator and HS student should read this book. Ulrich's uses the perfect examples and connects every-day experiences to the research. I decided to read this book as I embark in the learning of a different set of skills to become a certified court interpreter. This book has helped me map out the strategies and goals I need to develop to become a successful learner. This book is a must-read!
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