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Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers…

de Daniel T. Willingham

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4961140,089 (4.17)7
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… (més)
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As a novice teacher, reading this book has been cathartic for me in many ways. It cemented ideas I've gained through my extremely short experience as a teacher, and introduced me to concepts I wasn't familiar with.
Judging from the title alone, I expected the book to center around class management or to address the shortcomings of the educational system. None of that is mentioned in the book. The book chiefly deals with cognitive skills and how to nurture them in learners. In fact, it talks in general about how our mind works. So that makes the book accessible to anyone who's interested in learning more about thinking, memory and the necessity of background knowledge when trying to solve any problem or think critically about a given situation. It doesn't get too technical either.

The author's writing style is simple and he tends to use humour, so that made reading this book very enjoyable to me. ( )
  meddz | Jun 11, 2021 |
Significance
Through the expertise of a cognitive scientists, this work dispels many of the myths surrounding how we learn (including remembering) and shows practical ways to improve learning. I haven't seen a book quite like it.

Artwork/Writing/Narrative/Organization
* Clear writing with many examples.
* Relevant and clear illustrations.
* Very well organized.
* Easy-going authorial voice organized in a story-like narrative (he practices what he preaches)

Personal Notes
As a parent of an elementary school child, I'm deeply invested in optimizing her learning. In spite of the fact that science is constantly--and rapidly--evolving, this book is a big step towards concrete ways to improve your child's learning--as well as educational systems in general.

Interestingly, the author writes:

"The human mind seems exquisitely tuned to understand and remember stories--so much that psychologists sometimes refer to stories as 'psychologically privileged."

Need I say more? ( )
  quantum.alex | May 31, 2021 |
Very well-done book. Willingham pulls out nine principles that can ensure students learn better, explains and justifies each of them with examples, and makes the entirety extremely actionable. No slow non-fiction here, and all the repetition is for educational purposes -- smart repetitions of themes in sections that are clearly labeled review, rather than the awkward repetition of authors writing over many months forgetting what's already been touched on, or lacking enough of a message to fill a book.

My favorite is Chapter 2, which explains why background knowledge -- just knowing facts -- is prerequisite to critical thinking. In short: if you facts about what's going on already, you can free up your working memory to start to tease out comparisons and deeper analysis. If you're encountering material for the first time, it's biologically almost impossible to retain the facts and also analyze them. Also because we have a limited amount of working memory, knowing things already means you can learn more effectively; this leads to a rich-gets-richer effect in schools, where the best prepared students entering elementary school can learn faster and with less effort, because they already have more background knowledge. I wasn't sure where I stood on the debate of "higher order is what matters" vs. "facts first", but now I'm sold.

Another chapter debunked the idea of multiple intelligences -- my take-away here is that kids don't learn better with differentiated lessons because different kids do better under each approach, but because the students as a whole are less likely to get bored when the material presentation changes repeatedly: it keeps folks interested and on-topic.

Other interesting chapters are on praising effort rather than results, the need for thousands of hours of practice before expert status, and so on, but many of these have gotten enough coverage in the past five years that those chapters weren't as fascinating to me as they might have been if I'd read the book earlier.

Recommended as a well structured, fast read that brings insights. ( )
  pammab | May 1, 2016 |
In this fascinating book, Professor Willingham attempts to bridge the gap between what cognitive scientists have learned about the mind and what teachers do every day in school. Each chapter is shaped by a cognitive principle, which Willingham then explains. After that, the professor goes on to describe how this might affect classrooms. For instance, Chapter 2’s principle is “Factual knowledge must precede skill.” As Willingham explains, a student needs some knowledge about a subject in order to think about it. No knowledge equals no thinking. Classroom implications: be sure students have some background knowledge before asking them to think critically about a topic. And because the more you know, the easier it is to learn new material, getting students to read is crucial.

For me the most amazing part of this book was the section on learning styles. As the author points out, there is no evidence that matching teaching methods to learning styles actually works. Matching teaching methods to content does positively affect learning, but trying to match individual learning styles does not help.

Note that Prof. Willingham provides a very useful table that summarizes the cognitive principles and classroom implications on pp. 210 and 211. ( )
  barlow304 | Aug 1, 2013 |
The is an incredibly thought provoking book. Willingham provides us with different answers to many well-known theories. He causes you to really think about what you already know and challenges us to revisit those thoughts and preconceived notions. A great read for any teacher, teacher in training, or anyone who wishes to find answers to things they may have thought they already knew. Willingham also writes this book for anyone to understand, in other words, it is not filled with professional jargon. ( )
  markauch | Dec 12, 2012 |
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

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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