Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kids, Cognitive Science, and Writing

I just finished a great book:




Willingham discusses what we've learned from psychology and cognitive science, and how it applies to classroom instruction and other types of learning. His prose style is fun and understandable, and he does a great job presenting his research in layman's terms.

I originally picked up this book to help me with my homeschooling. I figured it would help me evaluate math curricula, teaching plans, and other ideas I've had. It HAS helped me figure those things out, and it's give n me hints on how to be a more effective teacher, too.

(He mentions that teachers described as great always have a strong, positive emotional connection with their students, and present material organized in a way that maximizes student retention. (he gives hints for this). I wonder if one of the reason homeschoolers are so successful is because they already meet the former qualification, and can LEARN to meet the latter.)

Anyway, I also enjoyed his chapter on how to become a better teacher because he drew parallels with the process of becoming a better writer. He had some especially helpful hints on critiquing and being critiqued. (I'd wish I'd read them BEFORE my first page came up on Editorial Anonymous-- I'd have responded in a better way, and more swiftly! As it is, it took a while for the critique to settle in, and NOW I'm slogging through the rewrite!)

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in how brains really work, parents who want to help their kids excel, teachers who want to improve their classroom, and anyone who's ever tried to learn something! It was really a quick, fun, informative read -- I'm glad I saw it reviewed at http://joannejacobs.com/ (My favorite Edublogger).

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