- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan (11 September 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230767796
- ISBN-13: 978-0230767799
- Product Dimensions:: 15.3 x 2 x 23.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 381 g
- Customer reviews:
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where and Why it Happens
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About the Author
Benedict Carey has been an award-winning science reporter at the New York Times since 2004 and previously worked at the Los Angeles Times. His 2010 article on study habits was the most emailed New York Times piece ever in a single day. He is the author of How We Learn: Throw out the rule book and unlock your brain's potential.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.
I would have to say that someone who wants to be a great student ASAP is probably better off reading A Mind For Numbers first. That book takes you by the hand and leads you through the ideas about what you need to DO a lot more specifically. It makes very frequent references to research, but it's plainly written with the intention of being a guide for people who are taking and really need to hone in on exactly what to do NOW, because there are tests coming up. It leads you through the material by the hand, pretty much, asking you questions and reminding you to stop and think about what you've read. It also has a (free) online MOOC through Coursera to go with it that covers/reinforces the same material.
Fluent Forever, in its effort to teach people how to learn languages, makes use of some of the same research, but shapes it to its topic. It offers a sort of general idea of how you should proceed, but the emphasis is on giving you a basic plan and just enough understanding of the research so that you can make good decisions about how to move forward with it.
I feel like How We Learn is a little farther down the spectrum in that same direction. Most of its emphasis is on teaching you the research (some of which is the same research cited by the other two), with an assumption that you'll be able to make reasonable decisions about how to put it into practice. So he goes over exactly why it is NOT a good idea to learn a new math trick by doing 50 problems in a row that use that trick. He touches on how it can be put into practice, but it isn't something he dwells on. This vs A Mind for Numbers is sort of like... one being a professor who teaches key points but assumes that the students are capable of drawing some reasonable conclusions on their own, and the other being a professor who strives to touch on every single possible issue that might be of importance. It's a very different style.
For someone who's actually writing a paper on learning or something of that nature, I suspect this will be more valuable. For someone who is actively taking classes or trying to learn a language, I'd say read either A Mind for Numbers or Fluent Forever first, because they'll get you going on making progress faster. Then, it certainly wouldn't hurt to come back to review some of the concepts and generally deepen your understanding overall by reading How We Learn. (If you're not taking classes and you just love teaching yourself new things, you might want to skip A Mind for Numbers. It puts a lot of emphasis on things like dealing with procrastination, which is very valuable, but not really a core issue if you're learning for pleasure and there aren't really any deadlines to speak of.)