I love that author Benedict Carey actively encourages us to play as we read about his research andreflect on our own learning. As a high school teacher/librarian, I was originally interested in How We Learn because of its subject matter, but I have been recommending it to others due to Carey’s many examples, anecdotes and overall engaging style. Additional reviews have appeared on NPR (with chapter excerpt here) and Mind/Shift, including a fun online quiz.
Carey begins with an overview of neuroscience and how the brain works – educators will be familiar with most of this material, but it could be of interest to parents and some students. In chapters with titles like “Spacing Out,” “Being Mixed Up,” and “Learning Without Thinking,” he goes on to explore study routines and practices. He notes, for example, that “making your memory work a little harder – by self-quizzing, for example or spacing out study time – sharpens the imprint of what you know.” Throughout, he acknowledges that we all learn differently. Therefore, I think this relatively slim volume would make an effective summer read for rising Seniors, especially those taking Psych/Soc or Lit/Psych.
Chapter 6, “The Upside of Distraction,” seems particularly pertinent to review as we move forward with a 1:1 mobile initiative. There, Carey refers to the importance of motivation, the theme of this month’s Educational Leadership issue from ASCD which contains an interview with author Daniel Pink.
How We Learn also stresses the importance of sleep, a topic which frequently intrigues students. Clearly, Carey’s connections apply to lifelong learning with even the Wall Street Journal recently (9/18/14) noting that “A Full Night's Sleep Can Really Pay Off--In Salary and Investments.” How We Learn will be appreciated by fans of Moonwalking with Einstein and readers of works by scholar/practitioners such as Clayton Christensen, Peg Tyre, and Daniel Kahneman. As more colleagues read How We Learn I am looking forward to several fascinating discussions about continuing to shift our focus from how we teach TO how we learn and how we facilitate learning.