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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of The Power of Habit and Thinking, Fast and Slow comes a practical, playful, and endlessly fascinating guide to what we really know about learning and memory today - and how we can apply it to our own lives. 

From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital. 

But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort? 

In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey's search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives - and less of a chore. 

By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.   

The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. In How We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage. 

©2014 Benedict Carey (P)2014 Random House Audio

What listeners say about How We Learn

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Mostly how we "remember", not how we "learn"

This was a fascinating book. Nicely laid out with complex cognitive systems described clearly. My only issue was that the book is slightly mischaracterized to be about "learning" when most of it is on memory and recall. The author does touch on deeper levels of learning- application, synthesis and making connections. I would have liked more here. Still a really great listen.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good

Make it stick is better in my opinion. There were great stories and examples though. Must read for parents and educators.

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

really well documented and powerful book!

Would you listen to How We Learn again? Why?

No, because it's informative, I did take notes though! great studying tips!

What other book might you compare How We Learn to and why?

There a lot of books talking about how the brain works... this one FOCUS on studying and remembering and quotes/explains a lot of past experiments

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, although it got kind of tedious for some moments

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

nop, but it did surprise me some points!

Any additional comments?

EXCELLENT RESEARCH

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting & Evidence Supported Perspectives

Benedict Carey offers some interesting insights of the learning process in some non-traditional but evidence supported methods. Even though I have studied learning and educational psychology some, I was not familiar with some of the research Carey offered. Some of the insights helped me to understand a few of the observations I had made in my professional degree program students over the years. Indeed, some of this content will be woven into recommendations for future courses. I rated everything as a 4-star for this book because of tending to be stingy with 5s. If available, 4.5s would have been perfect. If you are an educator at the secondary level or higher, I recommend this book. It could change the way you do things or the evidence presented therein could prove to be the impetus behind your own creative strategies for your students or even adult learners.

8 people found this helpful

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Best learning book ever!

As an instructional designer, I read a lot on adult learning theory and have to translate a nugget or two here or there into practice on my own. This book is full of so many practical takeaways and gimmes to really help learning stick. Simply the best at providing simple, practical, research based approaches to helping others learn!

4 people found this helpful

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A must read for every educator!!!

Written in laymen's terms this book really simplifies brain theory and gives you practical ways to apply what you have learned. A great investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

8 people found this helpful

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Good information

Easy listening, great info and insights. So many of my beliefs were wrong about the best way to learn. Enlightening read,

6 people found this helpful

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Very well researched and non obvious "rules"

As a learning professional, some of these points were familiar, but others ran contrary to reason and normal prejudices. Benedict shines a light on the things we should be doing in our training programs.

2 people found this helpful

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  • KB
  • 08-08-19

Depends what you want

If you consider rote memorization "learning" and want to hear about roughly eight billion psychological studies that may or may not reinforce theories about memorization, this is the book for you. If you were looking for something to help provide insights into curriculum design and pedagogy, look elsewhere.

1 person found this helpful

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  • OG
  • 12-28-18

Interesting and helpful tips for better learning.

I will definitely put into practice most the techniques the author proposes. The Q&A in the Appendix is specially useful for Audible users since it's basically a summary of all the techniques discussed in the book.

1 person found this helpful