Tag Archives: learning

Imagine two students in a classroom in Any High School, USA. One struggles to concentrate on what the teacher is saying, but finds himself daydreaming instead. Mind ablaze with different ideas, some only tangentially related to the subject at hand, he texts a note about how boring the teacher is to his best friend. She, however, is so busy taking notes, engaged in what she considers a brilliant lecture, that she doesn’t even notice the text. What accounts for the discrepancies in the ways different students experience and understand the same lessons, teachers, and subjects? Basically, we all have inherent preferences in how we learn best, from when to where to with (and from) whom. Find out what those preferences are and how they apply to you!   This online seminar is part of our July Seminar Series. The fee is $25 for this program or $99 for as many…

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Aeschylus, the renowned playwright of ancient Greece, is remembered as the father of tragedy. His works often visited themes such as disaster, downfall, and divine justice, which provided ample opportunity to connect suffering to learning: “Suffering brings experience.” “Wisdom comes through suffering.” “The reward of suffering is experience.” “Only through suffering do we learn.” “Nothing forces us to know what we do not want to know except pain.” Aeschylus was not the only philosopher to opine about how excruciating experience and knowledge can be to come by: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” — Confucius “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson “Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.” — Marian Wright Edelman…

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In education–as in all other things–we must never mistake effort for achievement. Far too many people are taught much yet learn little. In fact, many students find themselves buried under an avalanche of information without gleaning much in the way of knowledge. One area the discrepancy between teaching and learning becomes apparent is in a student’s notes. Prolific note-takers may fill page after hopefully handwritten page with copious names, dates, and facts, only to lose the essential framework that ties all these discrete pieces of trivia together. One path to distilling excess information into real knowledge is the shrinking outline method. STEP 1. A shrinking outline comes in handy when an original outline contains too much information to be manageable. So start with an unwieldy body of sequential notes. STEP 2. Spend time studying these notes, looking for the main ideas that contain and connect the smaller points. Create a…

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To maximize learning, experts are encouraging teachers and students to shift from a fixed mindset, based on a student’s innate talents and strengths, to a growth mindset, focused on strategies to make new brain connections through input from others and learning from mistakes. Carolyn Woo of Purdue University suggests that “IQ and college entrance tests lean toward a fixed mindset, as they employ a snapshot in time as indicators of future potential”. It does not follow, however, that a student’s score must merely be a summary of his fixed assets, therefore unchangeable. Effort is a key to change, but the tests are designed to deny admission to better scores through mere practice. Let’s consider how Carol Dweck’s elements of a growth mindset will unlock better scores. In her book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, Dweck asserts that seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks foster…

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When I think back to my college days, I wonder how professors expected us to learn anything. Some of those courses entailed hour-long lectures to hundreds of students at a time with minimal opportunity to encode or implement information. No wonder tests were basically based on the textbooks! Obviously, not every class–then or now–centers primarily on passive absorption of content. In fact, such ineffective models have mostly given way to more activity-oriented lesson plans. Effective teaching usually harnesses what is called the production effect. Basically, producing something at the immediate moment of learning facilitates understanding and enhances retention. At the most basic level, the production effect can be just a verbal trick, the superior retention of material read aloud relative to material read silently during an encoding episode. As you learn new information, repeat it to learn it. However, in learning as in so many other areas of life, actions…

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I recently had an opportunity to read student evaluations of a class we ran in a local school. What a roller coaster! Despite all my excitement over big score improvements, glowing recommendations, and insightful feedback, I was equally dismayed by comments revealing indifference or dislike. The constructively critical points were, as always, welcome. Harder to make use of, however, were the reviews from students who took pains to point out that their parents forced them to take the class. What can you do when a student doesn’t want to learn? No, really… what can you do when a student doesn’t want to learn? You can provide opportunities to learn. You can force attendance at learning opportunities. You can encourage engagement with learning opportunities. You can offer rewards to learn. You can threaten punishment for failure to learn. You can connect learning to desired short-term outcomes. You can connect learning to…

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