Tag Archives: learning

For most of us, life consists of constant moments of analysis, definition, and reevaluation. Basically, we’re always trying to figure ourselves out. A strong sense of self can, in certain contexts, provide great clarity and comfort. Other times, however, we place ourselves in boxes that restrict our options and limit our successes. One of the great modern insights into achievement and success comes from psychologist Carol Dweck, who introduced the concept of mindset. Mindsets are essentially the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our abilities: — A fixed mindset believes that abilities are innate and static. — A growth mindset believes that abilities are able to be improved. Essentially, as the saying goes, if you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right. Since achievement depends so directly on mindset, we should be careful to cultivate a growth mindset in ourselves and others. Doing so, however, requires more…

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If you’ve been a student or educator within the last ten years, you might have taught or learned in a “flipped” classroom, where students study the basics of the material at home and spend their class time in collaborative groups, and teachers serve more as moderators than lecturers. There’s a lot to like about this model, but there’s no denying that it takes a lot of work to pull off. To successfully “flip” a classroom, a teacher usually has to arrange study materials for students to work on at home, like recorded lectures and PowerPoint presentations, and then design lesson plans that encourage critical thinking and teamwork and can be carried out in an hour. It makes sense that teachers want to know before trying it: does any of it actually make a difference? The short answer is, yes. It’s difficult to objectively assess teaching methods, and there isn’t much…

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We’ve all heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” In fact, most of us are guilty of repeating that old bromide, typically to encourage some extremely imperfect activity. Nonetheless, this hoary oyster holds within a pearl of pure truth. Neuroscience tells us that practice makes perfect because of myelination. Our incredible brains never stop changing, which can be a bad thing depending on how we invest or squander our time. As they say, you are what you do, thanks to myelination. Everything we think, say, or do involves the firing of long chains of neurons in our brains. Myelin is an insulating tissue that forms a layer or sheath around the axon of a neuron. Apparently, myelin develops along neural pathways that fire over and over, and its function is to increase the speed of neural impulses along these pathways. In essence, the more we perform a certain task, the faster…

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Effective test preparation delivers so many benefits beyond the obvious improvement in test scores. This post is authored and published by the National Test Prep Association and shared here with permission.

While American culture celebrates individual differences and promotes diversity, many of our societal systems struggle with anyone who deviates too far from an accepted norm. This can certainly be the case in school; the entire model of group instruction depends on cohorts that learn the same material in the same way at the same pace. Obviously, not every child fits this mold. Advancing understanding of the way humans think and learn has changed our dialogue around learning disabilities. Instead of framing challenges as disorders, we now look at divergence. Sociologist Judy Singer coined the term neurodiversity to describe “the limitless variability of human cognition and the uniqueness of each human mind.” Assuming that someone is disabled because he doesn’t learn the way his classmates does represents outdated beliefs that ignore what we’ve always accepted about people: disadvantages in some areas generally accompany advantages in other areas. Thus, neurodivergent simply describes…

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“You can only climb as hard as you rest.” Jared Leto shared that kernel of rock climbing wisdom to explain his prodigious productivity. Even a moment’s thought assures us that this concept makes perfect sense. Now consider the average high school student, so buried under so many academic, extracurricular, and social commitments that he can’t even get a good night’s sleep. This avalanche of activities might seem like the only path to success, but overwork all too often impedes real achievement. Not only do people, particularly teens, require lots of sleep for optimal performance, but even breaks make a difference. Margaret L. Schlichting and Alison R. Preston of The University of Texas at Austin found that reflection boosts learning. Their research subjects who used time between learning tasks to reflect on what they had learned previously scored better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially where small threads…

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