Is your brain thinking about it ?

Here is another book I am reading as a graduate student in math elementary education: “Why don’t students like school”, by D.T. Willingham. I enjoy the cognitive approach the author takes to explain how to better support children’s learning.Willingham

One thing I noted is how your brain has to think about what you try to learn in order to retain it :

“Thus, your memory is not a product of what you want to remember or what you try to remember: it’s a product of what you think about” (p53)

And it is actually quite easy for children (and adults!) to get distracted from  thinking about the concept they intend to learn. Quick example from the book (p64): a math problem involving cell phone minutes in High School may have students think about… the last text they received rather than thinking about… math. And it may be tricky to motivate children with a topic of interest, or add some fun to help them learn without crossing the line of distracting them.

Indeed, I had the perfect example with my child this week.

Rosie came back home one night, and  recognized the symbol “<” in one of my books left on the table. “We just started learning about that symbol at school !” she said. So of course, I asked her to tell me more about it. To which she answered… “I am not quite sure yet, but it is like an alligator. And I love alligators !”

Zoology: 1 – Math: 0




3 responses to “Is your brain thinking about it ?

  • Becca Leech

    I find the title of this book pretty sensationalist. The vast majority of kids love to learn, love a challenge, love to push themselves. The reason they don’t like school is due to the regimentation of the the schedule, not the difficulty of learning itself. Sure learning is tough. That’s what’s great about learning. That isn’t the problem with schooling. The problem is the system that doesn’t allow individuals to meet their own highest high, not the process of each of us challenging ourselves to reach our highest potential.

Would love to hear from you !

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