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Customer Review

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, practical book on how to optimize teaching, April 8, 2009
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This review is from: Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (Hardcover)
Teachers and parents: Imagine you could sit down with a cognitive scientist and ask him to explain how students' brains learn, so that you could better teach them. Dan Willingham has written a book which achieves that very effect.

In an engaging and conversational style, the author brings cognitive science results to bear on our "common knowledge" about teaching, and turns our common assumptions upside down. For instance, the brain is not designed to think. Furthermore, the popular concept of visual-auditory-kinesthetic learners has no basis in fact.

Dr. Willingham explains cognitive research findings, and discusses how teachers can practically apply these results in the classroom. He peppers his book with illustrations and real life examples, which prevent the material from coming across as dry.

Some of the most profound ideas come in the final chapters: we should not praise a child for being "smart", but rather praise effort. Why? Because intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work. Children who are slow learners can often overcome shortcomings through harder effort. This has important implications for both teachers and parents.

He also gives practical advice for improving your teaching [because, like intelligence, teaching skill--and performance--can be improved with practice]. A great example is to find another teacher to work with, and videotape yourselves in the classroom. Then, you can both analyze teaching performance (in a supportive way).

For anyone who is interested in becoming a better teacher, or for parents who are interested in having their children learn optimally, I highly recommend this book. I am already buying copies for friends!
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