As the head of Open Learning at MIT, Sanjay Sarma has a daunting job description: to fling open the doors of the MIT experience for the benefit of the wider world. But if you're going to undertake such an ambitious project, you must first ask: how exactly does learning work? What conditions are most conducive? Are our traditional classroom methods - lecture, homework, test, repeat - actually effective? And if not, which techniques are?
Grasp takes listeners across multiple frontiers, from fundamental neuroscience to cognitive psychology and beyond, as it explores the future of learning. For instance:
- Scientists are studying the role of forgetting, exposing it not as a simple failure of memory but a critical weapon in our learning arsenal
- New developments in neuroimaging are helping us understand how reading works in the brain. It's become possible to identify children who might benefit from specialised dyslexia interventions - before they learn to read
- Many schools have begun converting to flipped classrooms, in which you watch a lesson at home, then do your 'homework' in class
Along the way, Sarma debunks long-held views such as the noxious idea of 'learning styles', while equipping listeners with a set of practical tools for absorbing and retaining information across a lifetime of learning. He presents a vision for learning that's more inclusive and democratic - revealing a world bursting with powerful learners, just waiting for the chance they deserve.
Drawing from the author's experience as an educator and the work of researchers and educational innovators at MIT and beyond, Grasp offers scientific and practical insight, promising not just to inform and entertain listeners but to open their minds.
"A remarkable book, both lively and scholarly. I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in the history of ideas about learning and who is interested in improving teaching and learning." (Henry L. Roediger, III, co-author of Make It Stick)
"An amazing book.... The authors provide an overview of the neural and cognitive processes that support learning.... They make a convincing case that students have an amazing capacity to learn." (Robert A. Bjork, distinguished research professor of psychology, UCLA)