Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

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John Wiley & Sons, Jun 10, 2009 - Education - 240 pages
3 Reviews
Easy-to-apply, scientifically-based approaches for engaging students in the classroom

Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham focuses his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning. His book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn. It reveals-the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.

  • Nine, easy-to-understand principles with clear applications for the classroom
  • Includes surprising findings, such as that intelligence is malleable, and that you cannot develop "thinking skills" without facts
  • How an understanding of the brain's workings can help teachers hone their teaching skills

"Mr. Willingham's answers apply just as well outside the classroom. Corporate trainers, marketers and, not least, parents -anyone who cares about how we learn-should find his book valuable reading."
—Wall Street Journal

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The nine key principles Mr. Willingham considers essential in order to be a better student and teacher: p. 163 "People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers; factual knowledge precedes skill; memory is the residue of thought; we understand new things in the context of things we already know; proficiency requires practice; cognition is fundamentally different early and late in training; children are more alike than different in terms of learning; intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work; teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved." One would think that the above principles are such commonplace observations that a book like Mr. Willingham's would be unnecessary; however, the aforementioned situation is not the case. In particular, people are often convinced that intelligence cannot be improved. Where Mr. Willingham's book fails is that it does not take into consideration the latest findings in genetics and neurobiology. However, to be fair, Mr. Willingham is writing not for scientists trying to find out how the brain works but teachers with bored students. Nevertheless, as is obvious to anyone, significant differences exist in natural mental ability between people; scientists are slowly figuring out how brains work; cosmetic neurology is just around the corner. 

Review: Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

User Review  - LNimz - Goodreads

The four stars I gave this book should not be misconstrued as my agreeing with everything the author says. The book caused me to do a great deal of thinking and I enjoyed it. But I disagree with some ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Daniel T. Willingham is professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. He writes the popular Ask the Cognitive Scientist column for American Educator magazine.

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