Why Don’t Students Like School? | Daniel T. Willingham

Summary of: Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom
By: Daniel T. Willingham

Introduction

Dive into the fascinating insights that cognitive science provides in understanding how the mind works and its implications for the classroom scenario. In this summary of Daniel T. Willingham’s book, ‘Why Don’t Students Like School?’, we discuss the aversion our brains have towards heavy cognitive processes, the way our memory functions, the significance of context in learning, the importance of mastering fundamentals, the learning techniques that work, and the role of environmental factors in determining intelligence. This engrossing summary will change how you approach learning and teaching, offering a fresh perspective on how to engage students effectively.

How Our Brain Functions

Our brain prefers pattern spotting and recognition compared to energy-intensive thinking, which is why we tend to use our devices for games rather than learning. Memory is also a cognitive tool that helps us avoid overloading our brains while performing simple tasks.

Have you ever wondered why teenagers find it hard to get off their phones or computers? As we grow older, we start to stereotype and judge. But instead, we should learn about how the brain functions and why young adults behave the way they do.

Contrary to popular belief, our brain does not like to think, especially when it comes to higher-level cognitive processes like solving a complex math problem or reading a difficult text. This is because active thinking requires a lot of energy and is slow. Our ancient ancestors’ survival depended on sight and movement rather than thinking, hence our brain’s natural tendency to avoid intense thinking.

However, our brain excels in pattern spotting and recognition, which explains how infants learn to speak and why we can interpret situations quickly. These cognitive abilities help us avoid energy-intensive thinking, and our brain prefers to use memory when performing simple tasks, such as combing our hair.

In conclusion, our brain is wired to avoid energy-intensive thinking, and we should not judge young adults for spending time on their devices. It’s time to learn more about how our brain works and embrace the cognitive tools that come naturally to us.

Maximizing Memory

Our brain has two forms of memory: working memory and long-term memory. Working memory can hold a limited number of items at a time, while long-term memory stores important information until needed. The transfer of information between these two types of memory happens only if the information is considered important enough. Our brain’s memory system is so efficient that early computer scientists took the human brain as their model and designed computers to emulate it.

Learning with Context

The brain processes new information better with prior contextual knowledge according to the book. The article uses an example to illustrate the significance of context in learning. Educators should ensure students understand the basic principles of a subject before progressing to complex topics. Concrete examples should be provided to enhance the learning experience.

Chunking: The Art of Learning

Effective learning requires the use of chunking, which is the connection of bits of fact-based information in long-term memory. The brain starts to connect different points of information as soon as it starts gathering facts. Chunking can be used to aid memorization, and this method has proven to be the best way of storing information in long-term memory effectively. By connecting bits of information and gathering a deep understanding of the subject’s fundamental facts and principles, students develop critical thinking and analytic skills. To teach and enhance learning, a fundamental skill that most teachers aim to develop.

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