How We Learn: online The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and new arrival Why It Happens sale

How We Learn: online The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and new arrival Why It Happens sale

How We Learn: online The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and new arrival Why It Happens sale
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Description

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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 self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital.

But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort?

In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.

By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.

The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. In How We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage.

Review

“This book is a revelation. I feel as if I’ve owned a brain for fifty-four years and only now discovered the operating manual. For two centuries, psychologists and neurologists have been quietly piecing together the mysteries of mind and memory as they relate to learning and knowing. Benedict Carey serves up their most fascinating, surprising, and valuable discoveries with clarity, wit, and heart. I wish I’d read this when I was seventeen.” —Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff and Gulp
 
How We Learn makes for a welcome rejoinder to the faddish notion that learning is all about the hours put in. Learners, [Benedict] Carey reminds us, are not automatons.” The New York Times Book Review
 
“The insights of How We Learn apply to far more than just academic situations. Anyone looking to learn a musical instrument would benefit from understanding what frequency and type of practice is most effective. Even readers with little practical use for Carey’s information will likely find much of it fascinating, such as how intuition can be a teachable skill, or that giving practice exams at the very beginning of a semester improves grades. How We Learn is a valuable, entertaining tool for educators, students and parents.” Shelf Awareness

How We Learn is more than a new approach to learning; it is a guide to making the most out of life. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?” —Scientific American
 
“Whether you struggle to remember a client’s name, aspire to learn a new language, or are a student battling to prepare for the next test, this book is a must. I know of no other source that pulls together so much of what we know about the science of memory and couples it with practical, practicable advice.” —Daniel T. Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of Raising Readers in an Age of Distraction

How We Learn is as fun to read as it is important, and as much about how to live as it is about how to learn. Benedict Carey’s skills as a writer, plus his willingness to mine his own history as a student, give the book a wonderful narrative quality that makes it all the more accessible—and all the more effective as a tutorial.” —Robert A. Bjork, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
 
“Fact #1: Your brain is a powerful and eccentric machine, capable of performing astonishing feats of memory and skill. Fact #2: Benedict Carey has written a book that will inspire and equip you to use your brain in a more effective way. Fact #3: You should use your brain—right now—to buy this book for yourself and for anyone who wants to learn faster and better.” —Daniel Coyle, bestselling author of The Talent Code

About the Author

Benedict Carey is an award-winning science reporter who has been at The New York Times since 2004, and one of the newspaper’s most emailed reporters. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in math and from Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism, and has written about health and science for twenty-five years. He lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The Story Maker

The Biology of Memory

The science of learning is, at bottom, a study of the mental muscle doing the work—the living brain—and how it manages the streaming sights, sounds, and scents of daily life. That it does so at all is miracle enough. That it does so routinely is beyond extraordinary.

Think of the waves of information rushing in every waking moment, the hiss of the kettle, the flicker of movement in the hall, the twinge of back pain, the tang of smoke. Then add the demands of a typical layer of multitasking—say, preparing a meal while monitoring a preschooler, periodically returning work emails, and picking up the phone to catch up with a friend.

Insane.

The machine that can do all that at once is more than merely complex. It’s a cauldron of activity. It’s churning like a kicked beehive.

Consider several numbers. The average human brain contains 100 billion neurons, the cells that make up its gray matter. Most of these cells link to thousands of other neurons, forming a universe of intertwining networks that communicate in a ceaseless, silent electrical storm with a storage capacity, in digital terms, of a million gigabytes. That’s enough to hold three million TV shows. This biological machine hums along even when it’s “at rest,” staring blankly at the bird feeder or some island daydream, using about 90 percent of the energy it burns while doing a crossword puzzle. Parts of the brain are highly active during sleep, too.

The brain is a dark, mostly featureless planet, and it helps to have a map. A simple one will do, to start. The sketch below shows several areas that are central to learning: the entorhinal cortex, which acts as a kind of filter for incoming information; the hippocampus, where memory formation begins; and the neocortex, where conscious memories are stored once they’re flagged as keepers.

This diagram is more than a snapshot. It hints at how the brain operates. The brain has modules, specialized components that divide the labor. The entorhinal cortex does one thing, and the hippocampus does another. The right hemisphere performs different functions from the left one. There are dedicated sensory areas, too, processing what you see, hear, and feel. Each does its own job and together they generate a coherent whole, a continually updating record of past, present, and possible future.

In a way, the brain’s modules are like specialists in a movie production crew. The cinematographer is framing shots, zooming in tight, dropping back, stockpiling footage. The sound engineer is recording, fiddling with volume, filtering background noise. There are editors and writers, a graphics person, a prop stylist, a composer working to supply tone, feeling—the emotional content—as well as someone keeping the books, tracking invoices, the facts and figures. And there’s a director, deciding which pieces go where, braiding all these elements together to tell a story that holds up. Not just any story, of course, but the one that best explains the “material” pouring through the senses. The brain interprets scenes in the instants after they happen, inserting judgments, meaning, and context on the fly. It also reconstructs them later on—what exactly did the boss mean by that comment?—scrutinizing the original footage to see how and where it fits into the larger movie.

It’s a story of a life—our own private documentary—and the film “crew” serves as an animating metaphor for what’s happening behind the scenes. How a memory forms. How it’s retrieved. Why it seems to fade, change, or grow more lucid over time. And how we might manipulate each step, to make the details richer, more vivid, clearer.

Remember, the director of this documentary is not some film school graduate, or a Hollywood prince with an entourage. It’s you.

•••

Before wading into brain biology, I want to say a word about metaphors. They are imprecise, practically by definition. They obscure as much as they reveal. And they’re often self-serving, crafted to serve some pet purpose—in the way that the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression supports the use of antidepressant medication. (No one knows what causes depression or why the drugs have the effects they do.)

Fair enough, all around. Our film crew metaphor is a loose one, to be sure—but then so is scientists’ understanding of the biology of memory, to put it mildly. The best we can do is dramatize what matters most to learning, and the film crew does that just fine.

To see how, let’s track down a specific memory in our own brain.

Let’s make it an interesting one, too, not the capital of Ohio or a friend’s phone number or the name of the actor who played Frodo. No, let’s make it the first day of high school. Those tentative steps into the main hallway, the leering presence of the older kids, the gunmetal thump of slamming lockers. Everyone over age fourteen remembers some detail from that day, and usually an entire video clip.

That memory exists in the brain as a network of linked cells. Those cells activate—or “fire”—together, like a net of lights in a department store Christmas display. When the blue lights blink on, the image of a sleigh appears; when the reds come on, it’s a snowflake. In much the same way, our neural networks produce patterns that the brain reads as images, thoughts, and feelings.

The cells that link to form these networks are called neurons. A neuron is essentially a biological switch. It receives signals from one side and—when it “flips” or fires—sends a signal out the other, to the neurons to which it’s linked.

The neuron network that forms a specific memory is not a random collection. It includes many of the same cells that flared when a specific memory was first formed—when we first heard that gunmetal thump of lockers. It’s as if these cells are bound in collective witness of that experience. The connections between the cells, called synapses, thicken with repeated use, facilitating faster transmission of signals.

Intuitively, this makes some sense; many remembered experiences feel like mental reenactments. But not until 2008 did scientists capture memory formation and retrieval directly, in individual human brain cells. In an experiment, doctors at the University of California, Los Angeles, threaded filament-like electrodes deep into the brains of thirteen people with epilepsy who were awaiting surgery.

This is routine practice. Epilepsy is not well understood; the tiny hurricanes of electrical activity that cause seizures seem to come out of the blue. These squalls often originate in the same neighborhood of the brain for any one individual, yet the location varies from person to person. Surgeons can remove these small epicenters of activity but first they have to find them, by witnessing and recording a seizure. That’s what the electrodes are for, pinpointing location. And it takes time. Patients may lie in the hospital with electrode implants for days on end before a seizure strikes. The UCLA team took advantage of this waiting period to answer a fundamental question.

Each patient watched a series of five- to ten-second video clips of well-known shows like Seinfeld and The Simpsons, celebrities like Elvis, or familiar landmarks. After a short break, the researchers asked each person to freely recall as many of the videos as possible, calling them out as they came to mind. During the initial viewing of the videos, a computer had recorded the firing of about one hundred neurons. The firing pattern was different for each clip; some neurons fired furiously and others were quiet. When a patient later recalled one of the clips, say of Homer Simpson, the brain showed exactly the same pattern as it had originally, as if replaying the experience.

“It’s astounding to see this in a single trial; the phenomenon is strong, and we knew we were listening in the right place,” the senior author of the study, Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at UCLA and Tel Aviv University, told me.

There the experiment ended, and it’s not clear what happened to the memory of those brief clips over time. If a person had seen hundreds of Simpsons episodes, then this five-second clip of Homer might not stand out for long. But it could. If some element of participating in the experiment was especially striking—for example, the sight of a man in a white coat fiddling with wires coming out of your exposed brain as Homer belly-laughed—then that memory could leap to mind easily, for life.

My first day of high school was in September 1974. I can still see the face of the teacher I approached in the hallway when the bell rang for the first class. I was lost, the hallway was swarmed, my head racing with the idea that I might be late, might miss something. I can still see streams of dusty morning light in that hallway, the ugly teal walls, an older kid at his locker, stashing a pack of Winstons. I swerved beside the teacher and said, “Excuse me” in a voice that was louder than I wanted. He stopped, looked down at my schedule: a kind face, wire-rimmed glasses, wispy red hair.

“You can follow me,” he said, with a half smile. “You’re in my class.”

Saved.

I have not thought about that for more than thirty-five years, and yet there it is. Not only does it come back but it does so in rich detail, and it keeps filling itself out the longer I inhabit the moment: here’s the sensation of my backpack slipping off my shoulder as I held out my schedule; now the hesitation in my step, not wanting to walk with a teacher. I trailed a few steps behind.

This kind of time travel is what scientists call episodic, or autobiographical memory, for obvious reasons. It has some of the same sensual texture as the original experience, the same narrative structure. Not so with the capital of Ohio, or a friend’s phone number: We don’t remember exactly when or where we learned those things. Those are what researchers call semantic memories, embedded not in narrative scenes but in a web of associations. The capital of Ohio, Columbus, may bring to mind images from a visit there, the face of a friend who moved to Ohio, or the grade school riddle, “What’s round on both sides and high in the middle?” This network is factual, not scenic. Yet it, too, “fills in” as the brain retrieves “Columbus” from memory.

In a universe full of wonders, this has to be on the short list: Some molecular bookmark keeps those neuron networks available for life and gives us nothing less than our history, our identity.

Scientists do not yet know how such a bookmark could work. It’s nothing like a digital link on a computer screen. Neural networks are continually in flux, and the one that formed back in 1974 is far different from the one I have now. I’ve lost some detail and color, and I have undoubtedly done a little editing in retrospect, maybe a lot.

It’s like writing about a terrifying summer camp adventure in eighth grade, the morning after it happened, and then writing about it again, six years later, in college. The second essay is much different. You have changed, so has your brain, and the biology of this change is shrouded in mystery and colored by personal experience. Still, the scene itself—the plot—is fundamentally intact, and researchers do have an idea of where that memory must live and why. It’s strangely reassuring, too. If that first day of high school feels like it’s right there on the top of your head, it’s a nice coincidence of language. Because, in a sense, that’s exactly where it is.

•••

For much of the twentieth century scientists believed that memories were diffuse, distributed through the areas of the brain that support thinking, like pulp in an orange. Any two neurons look more or less the same, for one thing; and they either fire or they don’t. No single brain area looked essential for memory formation.

Scientists had known since the nineteenth century that some skills, like language, are concentrated in specific brain regions. Yet those seemed to be exceptions. In the 1940s, the neuroscientist Karl Lashley showed that rats that learned to navigate a maze were largely unfazed when given surgical injuries in a variety of brain areas. If there was some single memory center, then at least one of those incisions should have caused severe deficits. Lashley concluded that virtually any area of the thinking brain was capable of supporting memory; if one area was injured, another could pick up the slack.

In the 1950s, however, this theory began to fall apart. Brain scientists began to discover, first, that developing nerve cells—baby neurons, so to speak—are coded to congregate in specific locations in the brain, as if preassigned a job. “You’re a visual cell, go to the back of the brain.” “You, over there, you’re a motor neuron, go straight to the motor area.” This discovery undermined the “interchangeable parts” hypothesis.

The knockout punch fell when an English psychologist named Brenda Milner met a Hartford, Connecticut, man named Henry Molaison. Molaison was a tinkerer and machine repairman who had trouble keeping a job because he suffered devastating seizures, as many as two or three a day, which came with little warning and often knocked him down, out cold. Life had become impossible to manage, a daily minefield. In 1953, at the age of twenty-seven, he arrived at the office of William Beecher Scoville, a neurosurgeon at Hartford Hospital, hoping for relief.

Molaison probably had a form of epilepsy, but he did not do well on antiseizure drugs, the only standard treatment available at the time. Scoville, a well-known and highly skilled surgeon, suspected that whatever their cause the seizures originated in the medial temporal lobes. Each of these lobes—there’s one in each hemisphere, mirroring one another, like the core of a split apple—contains a structure called the hippocampus, which was implicated in many seizure disorders.

Scoville decided that the best option was to surgically remove from Molaison’s brain two finger-shaped slivers of tissue, each including the hippocampus. It was a gamble; it was also an era when many doctors, Scoville prominent among them, considered brain surgery a promising treatment for a wide variety of mental disorders, including schizophrenia and severe depression. And sure enough, postop, Molaison had far fewer seizures.

He also lost his ability to form new memories.

Every time he had breakfast, every time he met a friend, every time he walked the dog in the park, it was as if he was doing so for the first time. He still had some memories from before the surgery, of his parents, his childhood home, of hikes in the woods as a kid. He had excellent short-term memory, the ability to keep a phone number or name in mind for thirty seconds or so by rehearsing it, and he could make small talk. He was as alert and sensitive as any other young man, despite his loss. Yet he could not hold a job and lived, more so than any mystic, in the moment.

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3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not what is advertised.
Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2015
If you are interested in the history of the science of learning and its development, this book is for you. As mentioned by other readers this book is not a how to recipe for better learning. Most of the theories and research shown in the book don''t have any conclusion or... See more
If you are interested in the history of the science of learning and its development, this book is for you. As mentioned by other readers this book is not a how to recipe for better learning. Most of the theories and research shown in the book don''t have any conclusion or solid outcome yet. As the author mentions in almost every chapter; how this works, no body knows. There is not a comprehensive and factual list of what to do and how to learn better. The learning techniques are interwoven with anecdotal padding that seems to be purposely created to dissipate the possibility that this theories are actual proven facts. Which in my opinion is a total contradiction of what the book is suppose to offer. What "might" work is pretty much an invitation to guess what and if some of these techniques work for you based on the authors personal experience.
124 people found this helpful
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S. Norton
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting approach to explaining the way we accept and retain new information
Reviewed in the United States on December 26, 2018
I was surprised to see how long we have known some of the ways we do not learn well and still practice those techniques. I would have expected we teachers in schools would have been more aware of some of this and employed better practices in our instruction, professional... See more
I was surprised to see how long we have known some of the ways we do not learn well and still practice those techniques. I would have expected we teachers in schools would have been more aware of some of this and employed better practices in our instruction, professional development, and teacher training programs.
I do now use this to inform my practice, and I have found those (high school) students who trust me to try the techniques perform better across all their courses. I have encouraged my students to read the book and to review the research that went into it to see what else they can determine about methods that may work well for them.
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ILVS
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read only if you are interested in the history of research of this subject.
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2021
Sorry, but I was so annoyed with this book that I wanted to share my opinion. This book is very badly structured! There is nowhere that author would give us the summary, the conclusion, the practical implications from that endless research that he endlessly describes. I... See more
Sorry, but I was so annoyed with this book that I wanted to share my opinion. This book is very badly structured! There is nowhere that author would give us the summary, the conclusion, the practical implications from that endless research that he endlessly describes. I want to know what are we talking about; if I know this already and don''t need convincing that it works, I will skip ahead; if I don''t I might read the chapter carefully. But the author doesn''t start with conclusions or practical implications; in fact, it was impossible for me to find them in the text at all. So, appreciate the effort, but only two stars.
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Sue Cagley
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting evidence on learning
Reviewed in the United States on January 6, 2019
As an educator, I''m always looking for ways and ideas to help my students succeed not just in my classroom, but in every classroom and learning situation in which they find themselves. This book provided a fascinating look at the evidence (or lack thereof) for how the... See more
As an educator, I''m always looking for ways and ideas to help my students succeed not just in my classroom, but in every classroom and learning situation in which they find themselves. This book provided a fascinating look at the evidence (or lack thereof) for how the brain works and some of the bigger myths about study habits and techniques. While I do not subscribe to the author''s assertions about how and when learning evolved, he distills the evidence about distractions, concentration, focused drill, and sleep in ways that can be applied by teachers and coaches in all disciplines.
7 people found this helpful
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D. Meyer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Revolutionary ...
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2014
Not necessarily a book for the casual reader, but this book is a wonderful tome of information on the latest research and findings in learning theory and cognitive psychology. In concert with Scott Barry Kaufman''s book, "Ungifted," students of teaching and learning... See more
Not necessarily a book for the casual reader, but this book is a wonderful tome of information on the latest research and findings in learning theory and cognitive psychology. In concert with Scott Barry Kaufman''s book, "Ungifted," students of teaching and learning will have a great foundation of knowledge to improve their practice. This is the easier of the two books to read, in my opinion. So I would start with this book. But I think a good companion book would be the aforementioned "Ungifted." This is the kind of book educators and all those who claim to care about education (re: Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, et al.) should be reading and using as a basis of their reform agenda. Would they, we would not be talking about standardized testing, Teach For America, and Common Core State Standards and curricula. Rather, we would be talking about meaningful teacher preparation and ongoing professional training. We would be improving schools from within the profession (ignoring all the pretend experts who propose big, expensive, one size fits all solutions) with teacher experts sharing their insights, knowledge and new paradigms for teaching and learning. Hopefully this book will be required reading in teacher preparation classes, and in schools that are searching for research-based ideas for how to improve learning in classrooms. Well done, Mr. Carey. Hopefully a much needed revolution is on the way, and you are part of the reason.
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Brian Johnson | Optimize
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The book is packed with fascinating research studies.
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2016
“The treasure at the end of this rainbow is not necessarily ‘brilliance.’ Brilliance is a fine aspiration, and Godspeed to those who have the genes, drive, luck, and connections to win that lottery. But shooting for a goal so... See more
“The treasure at the end of this rainbow is not necessarily ‘brilliance.’ Brilliance is a fine aspiration, and Godspeed to those who have the genes, drive, luck, and connections to win that lottery. But shooting for a goal so vague puts a person at risk of worshipping an ideal—and missing the target. No, this book is about something that is, at once, more humble and more grand: How to integrate the exotica of new subjects into daily life, in a way that makes them seep under our skin. How to make learning more a part of living and less an isolated chore. We will mine the latest science to unearth the tools necessary to pull this off, and to do so without feeling buried or oppressed. And we will show that some of what we’ve been taught to think of as our worst enemies—laziness, ignorance, distraction— can also work in our favor.”

~ Benedict Carey from How We Learn

Benedict Carey is a science writer for The New York Times.

This book is his exploration of what the latest research says about, you guessed it, How We Learn.

I read it as part of my preparation for Learning 101. Check out our Notes on Make It Stick (written by a story teller + two leading cognitive scientists focused on the science of learning) and A Mind for Numbers (written by a math teacher who taught one of the most popular classes in history) for more learning goodness.

I’m excited to share some of my favorite Big Ideas:

1. Distributed Learning - Think: Watering your lawn.
2. Enemy #1 for Learning - =Fluency illusion.
3. Can You Teach It? - Powerful way to learn.
4. Mix It Up - To strengthen the learning.
5. Sleep + Naps - = Learning with your eyes closed.

Here’s to optimizing how we learn as we actualize our potential!

More goodness— including PhilosophersNotes on 300+ books in our ​*OPTIMIZE*​ membership program. Find out more at brianjohnson . me.
18 people found this helpful
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Jarred Geller
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Could have been a Buzzfeed blog post
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2021
This book should have been a blog post. Each chapter can be boiled down to one or two insights. Tough to get through and feels like a chore. The author devotes hundreds of pages to scientific studies to “prove” common sense conclusions about learning. Oftentimes... See more
This book should have been a blog post.

Each chapter can be boiled down to one or two insights. Tough to get through and feels like a chore. The author devotes hundreds of pages to scientific studies to “prove” common sense conclusions about learning. Oftentimes he cites philosophers from 100 years ago who came to the same conclusions as social scientists but apparently this wisdom didn’t count as truth until it was proven in a lab. The minutiae of the studies offer nothing useful to someone who is just looking for practical study and memorization tips.

For example, we understand that memory improves when we take a short break. Great. But then scientists have to quantify every single conclusion down to the second. Study for 12 minutes, break for 6.5, study again for 4. Who cares?! None of these studies are useful information, nor do they make the conclusions any more compelling. In fact, it seems absurd that these “intellectuals” try to break down a rule of thumb into a formula every chance they get. Just give me the rule of thumb!

I usually love books that break down the science behind why something is good. Nutrition books that delve Into organic chem. Learning books that touch upon neuroscience. Social science books that get into evolutionary biology. This is not that kind of book. At all.

My biggest takeaway is not anything about how the brain works but rather to distrust psychology and social science studies as anything resembling a hard science. These fields miss the forest for the trees, at least as evidenced by this book. Would have been much better as a Buzzfeed kind of article —10 ways to improve your memory.
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A.B.
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Is learning really just about retaining information?
Reviewed in the United States on March 30, 2015
What''s interesting to me about this book - and the title itself - is how learning is almost entirely discussed in the context of memorization and retention. This idea, which I realize might be physiologically true, almost seems quaint especially when describing the... See more
What''s interesting to me about this book - and the title itself - is how learning is almost entirely discussed in the context of memorization and retention. This idea, which I realize might be physiologically true, almost seems quaint especially when describing the strategies that students might use to retain information that they can then use on tests. Or retain information that they will likely never even use again despite the fact that they are required to absorb it and prove their mastery of it to matriculate and qualify for university (or simply move to the next grade). I worry that the arguments in Mr. Carey''s book will reinforce this idea that success or failure in school is a result of success or failure in applying the right strategies for remembering things. We all know that you really learn something when you can apply it to an authentic task or project. You can memorize the manual for talking apart and putting back together a car engine, but you''ll never be able to actually learn how to do that until you, well, do it. I suppose the same goes for the Pythagorean Theorem. Who really cares if a2 + b2 = c2 if you can''t actually apply it somewhere in the world? So I was a bit disappointed that so much attention was paid to learning theory but so little mention was made of the ways we actually learn and how little attention is paid to that in schools. True, you can learn to recite entire passages of Shakespeare (and that might be a fun thing to do and a handy parlor trick) but what does that have to do with the sort of problem solving that results from really getting inside something? Until you have acquired tacit knowledge, not just explicit knowledge? I almost felt a bit of relief when I read the final sentence "Learning is, after all, what you do" until I realized that I was totally misinterpreting it.
65 people found this helpful
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Amai Reads
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lots of interesting curiosities, little practical application
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2019
PROS: + Extensive background introduction on the basics + Easy to read, plain English + It goes through a lot of topics regarding the learning process CONS: - If you have a basic understanding of how cognitive processes work, you may find some chapters repetitive and...See more
PROS: + Extensive background introduction on the basics + Easy to read, plain English + It goes through a lot of topics regarding the learning process CONS: - If you have a basic understanding of how cognitive processes work, you may find some chapters repetitive and tedious - A lot of the analysis is based on very old studies that have little ecological validity - The author also relies excessively on anecdotes and personal experiences to explain observations - If you are reading to optimise your own learning or get an insight on the subject, this book will not be very helpful - The value of habits is dismissed by the author, however a practice routine has been shown to be extremely effective on almost every context of human improvement (this is presented in many other books)
7 people found this helpful
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Books and Such
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wasteful for those with understanding in Neuroscience
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 23, 2017
This book was purchased in an attempt to reduce procrastination and improve study skills however I found it to provide very little USEFUL advice. The first two chapters are an insight into the workings of the brain and various theories of learning which, in my mind,...See more
This book was purchased in an attempt to reduce procrastination and improve study skills however I found it to provide very little USEFUL advice. The first two chapters are an insight into the workings of the brain and various theories of learning which, in my mind, provided no real benefit to the reader. These chapters could definitely be removed! Definitely not suitable for those with a knowledge of neuroscience and psychology already; a real shame.
10 people found this helpful
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Bodo
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
not that revolutionary but still good if you like research.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2019
Got to this from inner French website. I enjoyed it. Not that revolutionary, but I took away some useful tips.. He likes to refer to research and bigs up obscure studies, making them groundbreaking. A summary chapter of what to do in your own practice would have been good...See more
Got to this from inner French website. I enjoyed it. Not that revolutionary, but I took away some useful tips.. He likes to refer to research and bigs up obscure studies, making them groundbreaking. A summary chapter of what to do in your own practice would have been good at the end as I forgot the first bits when I finished. Ho hum for learning..
2 people found this helpful
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TPat
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 5, 2015
Really well researched and written. Brings us up to date with brain research and learning. The only thing stopping me giving it five stars is that it would have been good to have a summary of the key points/learnings. There is a lot of information in the book and a careful...See more
Really well researched and written. Brings us up to date with brain research and learning. The only thing stopping me giving it five stars is that it would have been good to have a summary of the key points/learnings. There is a lot of information in the book and a careful summary would have brought everything together nicely. I think the follow-up to this work has to be the practical applications of the techniques. To be fair the author has given examples but,as an individual, you will be left wondering how this all applies to you.
5 people found this helpful
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James
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Teacher? Read this.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 2, 2019
Very convincing evidence-based learning science that can be applied and tested in the classroom. One to read several times.
One person found this helpful
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