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Education Bookcast

Dec 22, 2017

This is an episode which requires little justification for its relevance to education - the title says it all. How We Learn presents a selection of cognitive science's more recent findings, some of which are rather counterintuitive, and gives several "tips" for how one might study more effectively based on these.

Topics covered include the importance of forgetting (!) for learning; the effect of context on learning, and the idea that varied context provides for better learning by enhancing the number of cues for memory retrieval; the power of spaced repetition; test-taking as a study method; and incubation and percolation, two ways of enhancing creativity and problem-solving by making use of downtime and the subconscious mind.

The idea that seems to run through everything most strongly is desirable difficulty, not a phrase that the author himself uses, but one that he explains in his own way. If there's one key take-away, it's "make learning hard".

Personally, most of the topics covered make me think of my approach to learning languages, which seems to jibe well with many of the ideas, although in some cases I clearly could do things better. There are a number of things here that I could have used either in my own learning or in my teaching, but somehow forgot about them all in the time (more than two years) between reading this book and recording this episode. Hopefully the audience will make better use of these ideas than I have so far!

Enjoy the episode.

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