I turned 50 in January and we had a big party at our house with over 50 friends. We had a great time. One of my goals for 2020 was to read more books with friends so I laid out piles of books I wanted to read in 2020 by our bookshelves and asked any friends who were interested to put their name on one of the sign up sheets I made next to a book they would be willing to read with me. Twelve of my friends signed up and so I bought each of them whatever book they signed up for, and I have been reading the books along with them and meeting to discuss the books and texting about the ideas in the books as well. I’ve really enjoyed this. There are so many books that I have read in the past that I wanted to talk to someone about. This also pushes me to review what I am reading in preparation for discussion so I learn the material better.
For anyone who enjoys growing their vocabulary, I recently found an app called, “Vocab.com”. It’s the best vocabulary building tool I have ever seen. It’s fun to do and I now spend at least 5 minutes per day with it. Give it a try!
My friend from work gave me this book for Christmas, and I asked a group of co-workers to read it with me. It’s very good so far and here are some of the things I have learned about learning from the first four chapters:
- Learning is most durable and deep when it’s effortful.
- Massed practice of a skill and rereading text are among the least productive study strategies, even though they are among the most common.
- Retrieval is more difficult when you space out practice at a task, but this is conducive to longer lasting learning and varied application of it in future settings – the gains from this are slower and require more effort, but it results in long term gains.
- The more you can explain about how what you are learning relates to your prior knowledge, the better your grasp of the learning will be.
- Learning is stronger when it is made concrete and matters to you personally.
- Repetition alone does not lead to good long-term memory.
- Mastering a text or lecture is NOT the same as mastering the underlying ideas.
- Testing is important for long term retention and self-testing can be very effective along with the testing from an instructor.
- The more cognitive work is required for retrieval, the greater will be your retention of the subject/skill/ideas.
- Repeated practice of the same thing only leads to short term memory – practice is much more effective if it is spaced out, mixed with other learning.
- There’s hardly any limit to our learning if we can relate it to what we already know.
- Unsuccessful attempts to solve a problem facilitates deep processing of the answer when it is supplied and leads to longer term retention. Teachers should allow students to struggle with solving problems. When errors are committed and there is corrective feedback, students learn better. Plus, those who are taught that learning is a struggle will be more willing and able to take on tough challenges in the future.
- Thinking that intellectual ability is fixed from birth is a fallacy and those who believe it tend to avoid challenges. Those who believe that their intellectual abilities lie largely within their control, will take on difficult challenges. Failure will be viewed as a sign of effort and progress in learning.
I end with a quote from the great Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more that you learn, the more places that you will go.”