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Why Don't Students Like School? a Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom Paperback – 9 Apr 2010
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"Drilling often conjures up images of late–19th–century schoolhouses, with students singsonging state capitals in unison without much comprehension of what they have learned," ( New York Times , 2010) "But Mr. Willingham′s answers apply just as well outside the classroom. Corporate trainers, marketers and, not least, parents –– anyone who cares about how we learn –– should find his book valuable reading." ( Wall Street Journal , April 29, 2009) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"Just like his Ask the Cognitive Scientist column, Dan Willingham′s book makes fascinating but complicated research from cognitive science accessible to teachers. It is jam packed with ideas that teachers willfind both intellectually rich and useful in their classroom work." —Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers "This readable, practical book by a distinguished cognitivescientist explains the universal roots of effective teaching and learning. With great wit and authority it practices the principles it preaches. It is the best teachers′ guide I know of—a classic that belongs in the book bag of every teacher from preschool to grad school." —E. D. Hirsch, Jr., university professor emeritus, University of Virginia "Dan Willingham, rare among cognitive scientists for also being awonderful writer, has produced a book about learning in school that readslike a trip through a wild and thrilling new country. For teachers and parents, even students, there are surprises on every page. Did you know, for instance,that our brains are not really made for thinking?" —Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post "Educators will love this wonderful book—in clear and compelling language, Willingham shows how the most important discoveries from the cognitive revolution can be used to improve teaching and inspire students in the classroom." —John Gabrieli, Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences,Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "Scientists know so much more than we knew thirty years ago about how children learn. This book offers you the research, and the arguments,that will help you become a more effective teacher." —Joe Riener, English teacher, Wilson High School, Washington, D.C. “A must read for those wishing to improve their classroom and those looking for ways to help their students be successful.” —G.L. Willhite, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse—Highly Recommended --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.See all Product description
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“Curriculum content - geologic history, moon phases, cellular respiration etc. - is presented as answers to questions, solutions to problems. There is extensive use of storytelling both through stories of real individuals (scientists in my case) and through making stories around natural phenomena. There is a recognition of the importance of practice to enable learners to have key knowledge and skills in their long term memory. Students are not expected to have expertise in tasks such as carrying out full investigations to create new knowledge. The role of the students is that of novice developing appropriate skills and, over time, deep understandings. The teacher is careful to evaluate lessons by considering what it is that the students will think about during the lesson. Importantly, the teacher believes that intelligence can be developed through effort and practice, and is careful not to praise students for their ability - that would risk students seeing their intelligence as fixed and leave them threatened by their errors. The teacher sees his own expertise as something that can develop through practice and so consciously reflects on successes and failures through keeping a teaching diary.”
Not all reviewers have been as positive as myself. Perhaps some of Willingham’s ideas (e.g. the brain is not designed for thinking) are too provocative, and certainly he explores, and finds wanting, some cherished ideas (such as learning styles and multiple intelligences). But don’t let some negative reviews dissuade you. “Why don’t students like school?” is recommended without reservation.
First, it's packed full of practical ideas. If you want to know how to improve the way you use stories, knowledge or problems, examples, practice or mnemonics, there's no better author than Dan Willingham.
Second, it distills three decades of scientific research into how the brain works. Thirty years of evidence is crystalised at your fingertips: all of it tailored to the classroom.
Third, it opens your eyes as to why certain things aren't working. For instance, why don't they remember anything I tell them? Because I'm starving them of stories and mnemonics that make content memorable. Why can't they understand the concepts? Because I've starved them of concrete examples. Why can't they interpret critically? Because they don't have a sufficiently secure foundation of background knowledge of the text. Willingham's brilliant diagnosis sheds light onto why students struggle at school.
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