Journey of the Mind

24th March 2022

Cheery Friday Greetings (from Bucharest!) to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Month

Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos, by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam. This engrossing book provides a step-by-step understanding of how consciousness, language, self-awareness, and civilization itself arose. What’s unique about this book is its gradual exploration, with vivid illustrations, of how consciousness advanced as it progressed from amoeba to worms, frogs, birds, monkeys and humans.  In the context of all this, we learn of the extraordinary work of Stephen Grossberg, a Newton of neuroscience whose groundbreaking discoveries have quietly underpinned many neuroscientific advances. Highly recommended!

5 AWESOME memory books you’ve probably never heard of!

Here’s a fascinating video from our favorite memory maven, Nelson Dellis, 5 times US Memory Champion, on his favorite non-obvious memory books.  This is a riveting video not only for the books that Nelson describes, but for the fun way that Nelson edits and tells the story.

“On Thinking Matters,” Cairo Egypt Annual Conference 2022

Barb will be giving a webinar keynote on June 17th: “On Thinking Matters,” for the Cairo Egypt “On Thinking Matters,” 2022. Register here. Barb’s talk will explore metacognition, flexible and inflexible thinking, jumping to conclusions, and more!

Barb on Slovenian television

Let a bit of Slovenia lighten your day! Barb converses (in English, despite the first minute or so of Slovenian introduction) with RTV SLO television show Dobro Yutro host Mojca Mavec about the arrival of the book A Mind for Numbers in Slovenian from the publisher Zalozba Vida

Podcast – Roll with the Punches

Here’s Barb (Apple or Spotify) in conversation with ace Australian podcaster Tiffanee Cook on her show Roll with the Punches (fittingly, Tiffanee was a martial arts expert).  Enjoy!

Meta’s Yann LeCun strives for human-level AI

Here is a great article by Ben Dickson in VentureBeat, recommended by Terry, on the future of artificial intelligence.

If you’d like a little humor about today’s approaches to teaching math

As one of the commenters noted, it’s hard to understand how the actors kept their faces straight in this amusing take on modern pedagogical approaches to math.

Opportunity for Remote Math Tutoring

Zara Tutoring, centered out of Barb’s neighborhood in Michigan, has opportunities for remote math tutorsapply here

With Traditional Learning Paradigms Disrupted By Covid, What Can Cognitive Neuroscience (and Homer Simpson) Teach Us About Becoming Better Learners?

This perceptive review by experienced teacher Travis Koutsoubos-Miles of our book Uncommon Sense Teaching provides fine insight on the book’s key concepts.  Key graf: “Uncommon Sense Teaching is fresh and insightful. Most importantly, it shows us why learning hinges less on teacher actions and more on whether students actively process what they’ve been taught. Informed by learning science, our best teaching can encourage students’ attention, retrieval, rest, and consolidation through strategies that smooth the path to learning and reduce the likelihood of forgetting. With the instruction students have lost due to COVID, we need to maximize how students learn more than ever before. Written by scholars but for lay people, books like Uncommon Sense Teaching set parents and educators well on our way to helping students do so.” 

Do You Have Advice Regarding an Extraordinarily Gifted Student?

We received the following email from a Learning How to Learner regarding her gifted grandson:

I have a question for you. After watching the entire video that you posted on educational policy regarding how students learn, and the need to accommodate students rather than just throwing them all into one basket, I could not help but think about my 7 year old grandson, who I’ll call “Ben.” Ben has been disruptive in his class. Disruptive in that, about 5 minutes into a lecture, Ben bursts into song… Any song that just happened to pop into his head at the moment. Ben reads well in English, and speaks French and Spanish. Ben is exceptional in math, yet he obtains a failing grade for every math exercise or test that he completes in the classroom.

Ben’s mother has explained to the teacher that Ben is capable of solving complicated math problems, and that his singing may be an indication of boredom in the classroom. She was told that Ben would have to endure being in the mainstream for another 3 years, as the “testing” of the “gifted” children does not start until Grade 5. In frustration, Ben’s mother has withdrawn him from the in-person classes, and has registered him in the School Board’s Virtual Classes Program. Unfortunately, Ben is faring out poorly in this program as well, as he is more interested in working out logic problems on various websites rather than following his lectures and completing his assigned work. I should mention that after one or two casual classes in music theory by one of his uncles, Ben plays the piano and keyboards exceptionally well. He can pick out chords just by listening to the song on any device. He is also quick to point out to me when I start singing in the wrong key. 

Yesterday morning, as we were preparing to leave my house, everyone, including Ben was near the front door donning boots, coats etc. As I was making my way down the staircase, Ben says to me: “Did you know that every time you speak, you sing a note?” I was so taken aback by his question, that I did not respond right away. During that pause, Ben’s Mom said something to him about his boots, to which Ben responded: “Maman, you just spoke in the key of E.”

Ben’s other uncle is on the autism spectrum, and has created a series of logic puzzles. Ben has been able to solve many of these puzzles, while I struggle for days sometimes on one puzzle. 

Just yesterday I asked Ben’s mom to request a meeting with the principal of his school to consider psychological testing, and explore alternatives for Ben as appropriate.  Then I stumbled across your post. What you have explained about how the brain works makes so much sense! Do you happen to have any connections to those who might be thinking along the same lines as you are?

All we can say is, we have a tremendously talented audience of Learning How to Learners.  Do you have any advice for Ben’s grandmother?  If so, could you post your suggestions here.  Not only Ben and his grandmother, but also many other students who might be in a similar situation.  

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

View more Cheery Friday e-mails >