- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books (March 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1623365260
- ISBN-13: 978-1623365264
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of March 2017: I recently tested my family’s patience for weeks as I announced during dinner, “I discovered something today,” and then related a new technique for learning I’d read in Learn Better. What my family didn’t realize at the time was that by teaching them what I’d learned, I myself was absorbing the lesson better than I would have if I’d just reread it again. That was only one of dozens of methods I’d consumed in Learn Better to help me understand, retain, and connect information better than through the old (and less effective) systems of highlighting and rereading. Boser’s smart and approachable writing style engaged me at once as he laid out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it’s basketball, parenting, or quantum physics. Experiments, data, and anecdotes back up his techniques, but almost as important, he explains learning in such a clear way that aha! moments abound. “Learning does not have a comfort zone,” he says, following up later with: “To develop a skill, we’re going to be uncomfortable, strained, often feeling a little embattled.” He emphasizes that expertise is not the most important quality of an effective educator: “We need instructors that know their subject—and know ways to explain their subject.” Boser even puts himself of the spot, suggesting that readers should question whether they believe an author’s arguments in order to bring analytical thinking to a subject, which will cement that knowledge (or their rejection of the author’s thesis) deeper in their brains. There’s a lot to absorb here, but happily you have an expert teacher guiding you now on your own path toward effective learning. --Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
"Learning makes us human, yet few of us truly understand how the brain, the heart, and the body work together to create new knowledge. Learn Better pulls back the curtain on the hidden ways we are wired for learning, in ways that are alternately humorous, surprising, and profound."
—Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
"Brimming with helpful insights and interesting stories, this surprising and engaging new book provides an important, much-needed introduction to the science of learning. It belongs on the bookshelf of every learner.”
—Linda Darling-Hammond, President of the Learning Policy Institute and Charles E. Ducommon Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University
"This critically important book offers valuable—and fun to master—insights about how to learn deeply and meaningfully in a time when all the 'knowledge' in the world is just a swipe of the finger away."
—Laura Moser, former education blogger at Slate
"Learning is the project of a lifetime. In this humane and insightful book, Ulrich Boser reveals the tools that everyone from grade school children to their parents in the workplace can use to keep pace in a fast-changing world."
—Kevin Carey, author of The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere
“This book is a great read. I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences in the classroom and my own experiences as a student.”
—John King, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
"Learn Better is at once comprehensive and delightful, filled to the brim with definitive insights on how we learn best. Boser is an engaging guide who has thoroughly sifted through the vast research on the science of learning to offer key takeaways that can be put into practice immediately. Essential reading for educators, parents, and anyone who wants to learn, once and for all, what it actually takes to 'learn better.'"
—Christine Gross-Loh, bestselling author of The Path and Parenting Without Borders
"Where was this book when I was struggling through undergrad, fighting off sleep as I burnt the proverbial midnight oil and laid the foundation of my current carpal tunnel condition from taking copious class notes that I now know—all these years later—were all but worthless? As Ulrich Boser reveals in an engrossing and highly entertaining way, the retention of facts, dates, and principles—learning—isn’t about what you do, but how you do it. One can’t simply vacuum up data, instead one has to “meaningfully process information.” Best of all for this old dog, anyone can master new skills by following the straightforward techniques detailed in Learn Better."
—Carl Chancellor, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
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However, the number of errors and low quality of writing in the book undercuts its message. Besides the errors mentioned by Mary Beth Averill in her review, there are statements like: "There’s a natural inclination to solve this problem—½ × ¼—by simply multiplying the denominators (that’s incorrect)." Um, no, that's correct; where did you go to middle school? Errors like this make me seriously question whether the author could adequately evaluate the statistics of the sources he cited to back up his statements.
The writing is uneven and sometimes rambling, as you can see if you try to highlight the key points made in each chapter. With a good writer, key points are made in a single statement. This author can take a paragraph or two to make his point, which would be fine if this was a podcast, but I hold books to a higher standard.
Finally, the "pop quizzes" are a good idea but devolve into questions like:
What is retrieval practice?
A.A game for dogs.
B.A type of self-quizzing.
C.A new exam format.
D.A better way to play tennis.
Which you can answer without even reading the book.
My advice is to wait for the second edition, if there ever is one.
It reads like a long-form magazine story, or something you'd find on Slate or Vox - it pulls facts and insights out of a mountain of research, but it's written in an easygoing style. The author meets up with social scientists who explain the work they're doing, and they relate it to people's everyday lives. I came away with some good ideas, and it's also just gotten me thinking more about how I think. (Incidentally, I learned from the book that this is called "metacognition"... I feel smarter already... Ha!)