Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! May 13, 2016

10th January 2017

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Barb’s in Ottawa, Canada, in a talk open to the public—so bring your friends and family!

Barb will be speaking in Ottawa on Monday, 30 May 2016 from 8:30 – 10:00 AM at a talk open to the public (although they kindly ask for you to register here beforehand). Barb will give insights behind the making of Learning How to Learn, and she will also describe key highlights from Learning How to Learn in a fun and insightful way. This will be a fantastic event at Carleton University’s breathtakingly beautiful conference space, so if you’re anywhere near Ottawa, don’t miss it!

“Need to remember something? Better draw it, study finds”

As you know, one of the MOOCs we feel strong affection for as a sort of sister course is Memory and Movies, by John Seamon. (John’s accompanying Memory and Movies book is also terrific). John’s most recent class email makes mention of a great article “Need to remember something? Better draw it, study finds.” Even if you’re a terrible artist, drawing a picture instead of writing the words makes an incredible difference in your ability to remember something.

Crash Course and VSauce

We’ve been pointed towards the “Crash Course” series of educational videos on topics such as physics, calculus, philosophy, the development of video games, Leonardo DiCaprio and the nature of reality. These are fantastic videos that are not only educational, but highly entertaining. On a side note, we’re sometimes asked by potential MOOC-makers and educational videographers about how to make scientific topics watchable even as the science sometimes goes deep. Crash Course gives, yes, a crash course on how to do it. Incidentally, we’re also fans of Michael Stevens of VSauce—here’s a sample video “Why Do We Have Two Nostrils?

Errata Corrige: Bengali Forum Link

We’re forming a new Bengali version of Learning How to Learn (শিখতে শেখা-আপনাকে সাহায্য করবে কঠিন বিষয় আয়ত্ত করতে). Already we’ve had many volunteers from last week’s announcement. Unfortunately, there was a bad link to the new Bengali Discussion Forum—you can find the right link for the discussion forum here. This will be the first ever translation of any MOOC into Bengali. If you speak Bengali, Arifa could really use your help as part of the little team she is forming. If you haven’t done it already, please fill out this form to join a terrific group! (If you don’t know what “Errata Corrige” means, it is a cool Latin term for “Error Correction.”)

Books of the Week—three (well, five altogether) more GREAT biographies!

If you haven’t read about three of the greatest characters in the history of Western civilization, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Augustus Caesar, well, it’s about time! (Okay, we also snuck Winston Churchill into the mix.) If you read the biographies below in any order, you’ll get a wonderful sense of the contrasting characters of some of the world’s most intriguing historical characters. When Barb read these books, she was flabbergasted to realize that she had previously learned so little about these magnificent figures from the past, whose legacies still shape the modern world.

  • Julius Caesar, by Philip Freeman. A riveting look at the great man’s controversial achievements, with deep insights into his personal life. Who knew that Caesar would put his entire life at risk, refusing to give up his beloved wife when so ordered by the empire’s dictator? Instead, he became a fugitive.
  • Alexander the Great, by Philip Freeman. We liked Philip Freeman’s Julius Caesar book so much, and there were such compelling stories of how Alexander had influenced Julius Caesar, that we couldn’t resist reading this compelling book. Incidentally, Alexander benefited from having Aristotle as his teacher—which just goes to show how much a good education can do for a person in their ability to have a (sometimes controversial!) impact. Behind the scenes, it’s worth noting that the engineering feats of both Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar and their men are what really made them so successful.
  • Augustus: First Emperor of Rome, by Adrian Goldsworthy and Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Anthony Everitt. We read two contrasting books about Augustus, an enigmatic character with a very different kind of genius than either Julius Caesar or the great Alexander. See what you think of the differences between the two books.

We love reading biographies by different authors of the same historical figure—it gives a surprising sense of how much the biographer her- or himself matters. If you really want a sense of the contrasting opinions that can arise in biography, read Gretchen Rubin’s awesome Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

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

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