How do we learn?
One of my favorite things about our society is that we have a combination of intense, data-driven research in academia and a publishing industry that disseminates that information for the average reader. While teachers and cognitive psychologists have the time to go to grad school to investigate how our children and ourselves really acquire functional skills and knowledge, most people have way too much going on in their professional and personal lives to make that kind of commitment. The two books below are wonderful examples of what decades of research have shown to be the most effective pathways to learning. Make it Stick documents specific studying strategies and ways to acquire knowledge, while Mindset provides a psychological framework to optimize our potential.
Studying and Learning
Here is a great breakdown of some of the info in Make it Stick:
Click here for a summary/review
Anders Ericsson has spent his career studying the psychology and cognitive psychology behind expertise, mastery, and practice. His research has culminated with the conclusion that we do not come equipped with a set level of potential, but rather that our potential is plastic and variable, and can be increased with effort. His studies show however, that it is not just hard work and passion that ensure development, but instead the observation that
"deliberate practice + adequate time = improvement".
In Peak, Ericsson outlines how to develop the skill of "deliberate practice," so that we can improve in whatever arena of life we choose to focus on. This book fully supports Dweck's studies on how one's mindset affects our potential. I highly recommend both books.
Dr. Carol Dweck, of Stanford, has spent decades researching successful people. She concluded that success is often a result of what she termed a "growth mindset" - one which values effort, resilience, and practice, as opposed to a belief in innate skill, intelligence and talent. Simply changing how we praise our children and ourselves can lead to significant improvements in ability, including measurable intelligence.
This idea has reached the level of becoming a cliche, and unfortunately is often just boiled down to thinking we can say "Nice effort!" and that is fostering a growth mindset. Here is a great article by Dweck on how to properly move in the direction of encouraging a growth mindset while also keeping high expectations of success and achievement:
Click Here for the article