Learning is a lifelong adventure.
It starts in your mother's womb, accelerates to high speed in infancy and childhood, and continues through every age. Whether you're actively engaged in mastering a new skill, intuitively discovering an unfamiliar place, or even sleeping - which is fundamental to helping you consolidate and hold on to what you've learned - you are truly born to learn around the clock. But few of us know how we learn, which is the key to learning and studying more effectively.
This series of 24 vibrant and accessible lectures has been designed to change that. Designed by an award-winning psychology teacher and expert on how people of all ages master new skills and information, it sheds light on what's going on when we learn and dispels common myths about the subject.
Professor Pasupathi's many examples cover the modern history of research on learning, from behaviorist theory in the early 20th century to the most recent debates about whether IQ can be separated from achievement - and even whether a spectrum of different learning styles and multiple intelligences really exists.
The lectures are also a rich source of readily implemented tips on how to excel in many different learning situations, including mastering difficult material, motivating children to learn, and preserving learning aptitude as we grow older.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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"Not very useful"
I've really enjoyed several of The Great Courses, so I was particularly disappointed in this one given that I've come to expect so much from them.
Most of the course (about 90%) has to do with categorizing every single nuance of the study of learning and assigning every nuance a vocabulary term that the listener will most likely never hear or use again in their lifetime. Of the remaining 10%, 5% dealt with scientific studies that just made me think, "Wow, it's amazing what some scientists get paid to study."
The remaining 5% that was actually useful information can be summed up as follows:
1. Test yourself frequently in the process of studying. Don't wait to test yourself until you think you know the material. The more frequently you test yourself on whatever you're studying, the more likely you will retain the information. (This was from chapter 12)
2. Test yourself continually, not only on the information you don't know, but also on the information that you believe you've learned. That's because you can actually teach yourself to forget that information by ignoring it in the review process. (This was from chapter 12)
3. Foreign language learning can be greatly enhanced by listening to anything in that language in the background on a routine basis. Basically, when you do this, you are faking immersion, but your brain senses the immersion experience as being real and absorbs more than you think even if you don't understand what's being said. (I've forgotten the chapter for this, but I think it was around chapter 10 or so.)
4. Your brain is always expandable at any time at any age. Forget your IQ, forget the way you think you learn best (by hearing, by seeing, by doing), and forget your past experiences with learning a particular topic. Just do it. It has been proven that the aquisition of a new language, in particular, prevents mental decline as we age. (From chapter 24)
The only people who might find this course fascinating for more than what is listed above are teachers or parents what are interested in educational theory. As far as personal practical application goes, this course leaves a lot to be desired.
"What we Know about Learning and How We Know It"
I started this course because after a long break after acquiring a psych BA I've been considering going back to grad school and wanted to make sure I knew how to use the best learning strategies. The information provided in this lecture series was mostly the findings of studies I had heard of before, but they were organized differently and presented clearer. I may listen to it again later on as it was a good refresher and probably slightly better than some of the original lectures I had taken in school.
I had just finished The Great Courses: Practicing Mindfulness before starting this series. Both are performed by well-trained lecturers and organized in a similar manner to college-level courses. I am pleased by the quality of the material and how well it is conveyed to the listener.
Originally I thought the course would be more about effective learning strategies and less about an overview on the the psychology of learning. While she does give a few strategies that are proven to work, I was hoping she would provide more. I am pleased with the course overall, however.
"A Fine Course On Various Learning Processes..."
I have been devouring the Great Courses series on mind and brain of late (see my other reviews of same), and I have found that they very often dovetail in remarkable ways and have a scientific and educational consistency which makes them highly recommendable. Monisha Pasupathi's set of lectures fits in nicely with the other lecture series I have covered on the mind, the brain, perception and how humans interact with the environment to maximize living. Pasupathi's lectures are broad in that they cover a wide range of theories about learning and give us lots of different angles from which to approach the idea of how we take on new information, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, how we adapt--and why we sometimes misadapt. A minor caveat might be that I find she sometimes invokes little semantic twists which, to my thinking, needlessly complicate the idea she is presenting. For example: when she is discussing one of her 10 "myths about learning" she tells us that "reward and punishment are not a foundation for learning--" when, of course, reward and punishment are VERY important to the process of learning, but her idea here seems to be that "the nails are not the house" sort of thing, that learning is something in and of itself and not simply a mechanic, robotic process for acquiring treats (true enough), but she presents it in such a way as it could be easily misconstrued as a rejection of aspects of behaviorism which are demonstrably true; another was "how smart you are does not affect how well you learn," after which she goes on to clarify that lots of previous knowledge helps to acquire new knowledge, leading one to ask, "but isn't 'having lots of previous knowledge' what 'smart' means in most cases (as opposed to "native intelligence," which I assume is she meant)?" But outside of these little things, this is still a fine university level course from which anyone can greatly benefit.
"Second Half Good, First Half Skip"
The first 12 chapters focus on human development from adolescence, at what point we are able to learn x vs. x subject matter. That's skippable for those who want to learn how to learn. The last 12 chapters are useful. The speaker goes over learning styles (anything that works is best), cognitive biases which may inhibit what we learn (confirmation bias), some study strategies (self-testing), what IQ tests for (past education maybe more than innate intelligence), and how learning is effected by getting older (not significant cognitive decline until around age 70). So that second half is good. She is an enjoyable speaker to listen to, but maybe a bit of a deliberately slow talker. I found listening at 3x speed acceptable.
"Really, truly marvelous Introduction"
HOW WE LEARN is not a book (in the conventional sense) but rather a collection of 30 minute lectures provided by THE GREAT COURSES series and delivered by Monica Pasupathi.
On balance, HOW WE LEARN, is an incredibly cogent synopsis of the scientific literature on human learning, from classical and operant conditioning through the validity of IQ measures and The Theory of Learning Styles. Dr. Pasupathi covers all included topics in a casual, engaging, but scientifically skillful way, calling attention to distinctions between causal and correlative relationships.
There are some notable omissions from the course that (while understandable when considering the course's intended audience) fail to provide a complete picture of human learning. Virtually no lecture time is dedicated either to formal studies of human memory or recent discovers in neuroscience. These omissions were made presumably to simplify the lectures themselves and to reduce prerequisite knowledge needed to appreciate the course as a whole, but ultimately have the effect of simplifying a jigsaw puzzle by taking away some of the pieces: True there now are fewer bits to assemble, but the resulting picture will be left incomplete.
Despite its omissions, however, HOW WE LEARN remains the best introduction to human learning that I have thus far had the good pleasure to encounter, and I recommend it heartily to everyone, scientists and layfolk alike.
Dr. Pasupathi's delivery is charming, accessible, and delightful. However, there are times when her speech can feel a bit slow, and given the relative sparsity of concrete information, this can be occasionally frustrating. I recommend playing these lectures at accelerated speed (2x, 2.5x, or 3x if you can still follow) to improve the pacing of what are plainly top notch and marvelous lectures.
Great Theory! . Good on an intellectual level, but not much 'how to'. Some things I already knew from experience.
"Quality performance and material, can lag"
I enjoyed the course quite a bit. There is plenty of thought provoking material, as well as the requisite background for those somewhat new to the field. Can't give it a five, due to the slow and occasionally uneven delivery. At 125% speed, it was much improved. I feel the instructor is probably a rather good speaker who may have been thrown off by the recording process. Overall, I definitely recommend it.
"Worth every minute!"
Struggling to at 60 as a first time Spanish student in a Guatemalan immersion program, I picked this listen to see what I was doing wrong. Come to find out I'm not doing anything wrong and my aging brain is doing just fine! And it confirmed for me the efficacy of the approach I'm taking. I can't recommend this lecturer highly enough. By far the best listen in a great group of lectures in general. You won't regret the investment in time or money.
"Wow a great course should be an annual requirement for all teachers involved in direct education"
I learned loads of new info that I can use to improve my one rate of learning. I only wish this was the first audio book I listened to to set me on the right learning direction from the start
it took a chapter or so to get into but I'm glad I did. Increasing the play speed by 2 x helped as well. I would recommend it to a friend.
"great for scientist minds"
the lectures are mostly a long list of experiments, contemplations on their results, and some interesting suggestions here and there.
for an inquisitive mind, that needs data as well as thought, this is great.
people who want to be told how to learn better, are looking in the wrong place.
I really liked the format and the super interesting content. it really goes over a lot of stuff in learning theory.
the lecturer is mostly ok, engaging and positive. but, a bit slow for me. also, there are a lot of pauses in the audio - complete silent seconds. as in a second here, a second there. I found this very annoying, and it makes the experience not so good.
BUT! I solved both my problems by listening to lectures at 1.25 speed (as I do for most Great Courses products anyway).
And I already feel like I could listen to this again.
"Virtually no content"
I listened for two hours on two separate occasions.
Throughout i was just hanging on to be told something but was 100% disappointed (seriously).
I am a fan of the teaching company and am bemused as to how the start-to-finish waffle was recorded?
I cannot un-recommend this audiobook enough.
"Everything about learning"
Really good set of lectures covering recent knowledge about brain, learning, teaching etc. Very useful and practical.
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