Lately, on Instagram and my live streams, I’ve been talking more and more about my growing desire to make a change in this world beyond what can be done in online business. Specifically, I want to make a difference in the world of education.
As many of you know, I’m on the advisory board for Pencils Of Promise, an organization I fell in love with after interviewing Adam Braun in Session #102 of the SPI Podcast. Adam founded Pencils Of Promise to help build schools in third-world countries, and in 2015, I went on a trip to Ghana to be a part of the work the organization is doing there. I will never forget that trip. It was a life-changing moment for me. It made me realize I needed to do more to help—not just from afar, but here at home too.
To help with this effort, I first wanted to learn more about education in general, and how people learn, which affects how one might approach teaching. So, as I love to do, I reached out to my tribe on Twitter to see if they had any recommendations for resources on this subject. And, as is always the case, my Twitter followers did not disappoint. How We Learn was recommended to me by a few different people.
After reading How We Learn, boy, I wish I had this book in hand when I was in school! The book really digs deep into a lot of science and specific strategies and tactics for how we can best learn. It’s a pretty amazing guide for how to optimize learning in any context.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that cramming study sessions in the night before tests, for example, isn’t very useful for retention. I know this from first-hand experience. I couldn’t tell you much of what I learned from the tests back in high school and college.
But, in How We Learn, there are specific case studies that show, based on the brain and how it actually works, science-backed strategies for retaining knowledge. For instance, things like taking breaks and getting a good night’s sleep are far more beneficial than staying up late to study more. Additionally, teaching the information you learned back to others is better than just reading notes and highlighting pages.
That kind of stuff is fairly well-known, but it’s a worthy reminder. Something that is not as common, and one of the more surprising aspects of the book, is the value one can get by simply changing environments while studying. Or, another good example is to create a specific study plan based on the number of days or weeks you have left until the day you take the test. Lastly, one example that I found most interesting was the practice test. If you fail a practice test, it’s more likely that you’ll succeed on the real test. That’s pretty cool.
Like I said, this book would have been really useful to me back in the day when I was in school, but it’s even more useful now that I’m thinking about how I might be able to teach others. How We Learn wasn’t really what I was initially looking for in terms of a resource for improving the education system, but it’s proven to be useful for how I build my own courses, including Smart From Scratch, and the upcoming Power-Up Podcasting.
If you are currently in school yourself, How We Learn is definitely for you. If you are a teacher, or you have online courses like I do, I think you’ll also get a lot out of this book. And, for those passionate about education in general, like me, I think this book will prove to be a great resource down the road.