Thinking and learning

Dan Willingham’s new book, Why Don’t Students Like School?, gets a rave review in the Wall Street Journal.

A cognitive scientist, Willingham explains how teachers can use what we know about thinking to enhance learning.  For example: Is drilling worth it?

The answer is yes, because research shows that practice not only makes a skill perfect but also makes it permanent, automatic and transferable to new situations, enabling more complex work that relies on the basics. Another question: “What is the secret to getting students to think like real scientists, mathematicians, and historians?” According to Mr. Willingham, this goal is too ambitious: Students are ready to understand knowledge but not create it. For most, that is enough. Attempting a great leap forward is likely to fail.

. . . Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, is not in favor of merely making learning “fun” or “creative.” He advocates teaching old-fashioned content as the best path to improving a student’s reading comprehension and critical thinking.

Why Don’t Students Like School? is “one of the most important education books of our time,” writes Bill Evers on his Ed Policy blog.

See more here on what Willingham thinks teachers should know about cognitive science.

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