Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Dec 4, 2015

5th January 2017

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Think You’re Math Phobic—or Do You Love Numbers? Either Way, Try this Friendly Course

Senior Mentor Susan Fitzgerald has brought this intriguing-looking course, “Fun with Prime Numbers,” to our attention. (Okay, so maybe the name shares a bit in common with the popular television show “The Big Bang Theory” and Sheldon’s ostensible show-within-a-show “Fun with Flags.”) The MOOC’s instructor, Tetsushi Ito, looks like a marvelously friendly professor who understands how to make seemingly arcane material fun and relevant. Watch the promotional video at the top of the page and you’ll see what we mean. We’ve signed up ourselves—the course starts on January 16th.

Transcripts for All Regular Course Videos are Now Available!

Many of you have requested neatly formatted transcripts of each of the regular course videos. Thanks to the talents and hard work of learner Marta Pulley, and the uploading wizardry of Senior Mentor Vindra Khanai, these scripts are now available. Just look to the right of the discussion sections under each video, and you’ll see pdfs of the scripts, along with Powerpoints and other related materials to help you better grasp the materials. (And of course, the supplemental course book, A Mind for Numbers, goes into more depth.)

This Week’s Reading Recommendations—A Couple of All Time Favorites

Speaking of books, this week, we’d like to suggest Daniel Kahneman’s masterful Thinking, Fast and Slow. This is one of the greatest books of psychology we’ve ever read—fully worthy of its long-time best-seller status. Kahneman’s slow thinking is analogous to our focused mode. But his fast thinking is more related to knee-jerk, emotional responses, rather than the “not focused on anything in particular” neural resting states of what we term the diffuse mode in Learning How to Learn. More directly related to Learning How to Learn’s focused and diffuse modes is the great classic of creativity literature, Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. Read both brilliant books to enjoy two contrasting views on how to “chunk” key aspects of brain function.

The Power of Chunking!

And since we’re on the topic of chunking, check out this wonderful mashup of riveting dance scenes. Imagine the gradual, tiny-chunk-by-tiny-chunk growth of mastery that produced those magnificent moves. A vast repertoire of chunks underlies all forms of expertise, whether in dance, sports, language, math, or science. Chunked expertise, as Barb’s seemingly befuddled younger daughter reveals in week 3 of Learning How to Learn, even underlies the ability to back up a car.

Do you think that these extraordinary masters of dance can necessarily explain aloud how they perform each of their magnificent moves? Might thinking about explanations actually interfere with their ability to move so effortlessly? In the same way, do you think that children demonstrate more expertise with math if they can explain every step of their answers? Reach Katharine Beals and Barry Garelick’s terrific, counter-intuitive article “Explaining Your Math: Unnecessary at Best, Encumbering at Worst,” in The Atlantic to find out.

Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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