Project Description

Overall Thoughts

Terrific book that lies at the intersection of education and neuroscience. Every school, and every teacher at every school would benefit from bringing these findings into their classrooms. Every parent could apply these learnings at home. This is a book about something truly fundamental – how we learn.

Main Takeaways

  1. We’re significantly more capable of learning new things than society assumes (and often, says) we are. Most people are products of their prior social environments, and these environments often promoted a fixed-brain mindset. People assumed that we were born with a certain brain, and that pretty much decided the rest of our life’s abilities.
  2. More, school experiences – and the votes of elders would often decide what we were capable of, and what we weren’t really suited to. This decision-making was taken in the context of a fixed-brain mindset, and ought to be side-stepped as we know new things about neuroscience.
  3. Every time we learn, our brains create, strengthen, or connect neural pathways. The myth that some people simply don’t have the aptitude for certain subjects is scientifically inaccurate and negatively impacts education and everyday life.
  4. Mindsets matter; need to move from fixed mindsets (where people say some people can, and some can’t) to growth mindsets (where we all can develop the neural pathways needed for pretty much any type of learning)
  5. Our beliefs matter and affect our lives. Students in particular ought to reflect on their beliefs about themselves & their capacities. When we’re able to change our beliefs about our own abilities (super important), our bodies and brains physically change.
  6. Organizing schools by Ability groups is a legacy of fixed-brain regimes, has adverse outcomes for students & ought to be eliminated.
  7. Struggling with new material and making mistakes while learning and applying oneself all contribute massively to strengthening of neural pathways. Challenging work & an environment that encourages such struggle as a part of learning creates beneficial outcomes for students (and adults who want to learn new things as well).
  8. Multi-dimensional or multi-perspective learning of a problem or topic is far more impactful and helpful for students than a linear, textbook approach of going topic to topic or worse, silo to silo. There is already some progress in the study of humanities in this way (in a good liberal arts college, for ex) but the subjects most in need of this approach are Math, Science & the languages which suffer
  9. Conventional schooling and as a result, the society that emerges from it tends to appreciate and value speed of thinking much higher than it perhaps should. Slow, deep thinking is more important – even in Math – than speed of thinking. Getting “it” – whatever the temporal “it” is – clouds our sense of what is truly relevant – how ideas relate to each other.
  10. Learning through collaboration is especially important for great learning outcomes, as the person learning to hear & process someone else’s articulation of an idea or concept ends up building deeper relational understanding of his own. This type of learning is under-emphasized in traditional or conventional school environments.