Learning How to Learn, Book Review

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Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens by Barbara Oakley, Terrence J. Sejnowski, Alistair McConville. On Goodreads.

(This review appeared originally on Goodreads.)

Learning How To Learn talks about simple and effective practices to improve your ability to learn more efficiently and more effectively.

Dr. Barbara Oakley, among the many other books authored, is the creator of the most popular MOOC with the similar name “Learning How To Learn,” which I immensely enjoyed and included many of the thinking tools presented in this book.

I enjoyed being an early reader of this book’s draft as a reviewer, and I was eager to buy the final book when released. Exchanging directly with the author has been a further occasion to learn more and better about the tools and practices.

Although it is aimed at kids, I tested most of the techniques in the first person: any learner of any age can benefit from them. The approaches proposed by the authors are coming from their field of research in neurosciences and their teaching practices. I was delighted by the effectiveness of some techniques because they are addressing many of my weak spots: memorizing, avoiding distractions, getting the best out of learning materials. Knowing more about the inner workings of our brains helps in understanding why specific learning and organizing techniques are working better than others and why we should take care of aspects and things that might seem unrelated at first.

For instance, the book explains the importance of reading and summarizing with your own words, taking care of a good dose of sleep, the effect of the environment (the place, the light, the sounds), the immense attention-destruction power of distractions, and how to prevent it.

I love this book, and I am including many of its suggestions in my teaching, facilitation, and training practices: I am also doing my best to improve the learning capability of my son by suggesting the application of Learning “How To Learn”’s gems.

Strongly recommended to any human being.

2 responses to “Learning How to Learn, Book Review”

  1. Ciao Massimo, I’m always curious happy to read what you put out.
    Kudos to your perseverance in seeking your way through writing.

    P.S.: This time I think you have a great opportunity that I would have jumped on immediately. This book covers a very interesting topic and if you have reviewed it and then bought it you must know it quite well now.

    Why don’t you then summarize and review in greater depth its key contents allowing us readers a greater taste of it, while putting into practice the very philosophy you seem to be wanting to be bringing forward: being someone who helps others understand complex matters by being able to crystallize key points and to synthesize the essence of what you observe.

  2. HI, Robin,
    I need to steal time to write. And summarizing deeply and meaningfully requires a lot of time. But since learning, and learning how to learn, are my passions, I am planning to do more about, maybe also in the direction you are suggesting.

    The “Learning How To Learn” book is the direct consequence of the incredible work done on the online course with the same name. It is free, and it make sense to follow that course and apply it to learn those precious techniques. I am so inspired by these kind of tools that I’d like to collect, explain and share them.

    I just need time…

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