Memory Superpowers!

27th February 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

Memory Superpowers! An Adventurous Guide to Remembering What You Don’t Want to Forget, by 4-time US Memory Champion Nelson Dellis. This is a wonderful book for youths from about 10-years-old to 14—it’s the kind of rollicking good adventure that your youngster can read aloud to you, so you are learning together as a family about tricks and secrets to remembering everything from the world capitals to the elements of the periodic table to speeches and soliloquies.  Barb’s blurb on the book is: “If there’s ONE BOOK to give your child (or you!) to help with learning, this is the one.” This is a pre-order—get your order in line early for what we suspect will be a sell-out!

Looking for a Fantastic Online School—Look No Further than Stanford OHS! 

Barb had the privilege of presenting a webinar last week for Stanford Online High School, a fully accredited independent school for academically talented students located within Stanford University. It’s a six-year school, serving students in grades 7-12. One of the many great things about this school is that students are placed in course levels by their individual ability, not by grade level alone, and their schedules are individualized. As far as education goes, it’s virtually (ha ha!) impossible to get any better than this wonderful online approach, used by great students from all over the world. If you’ve a youngster who breaks the mold, check out Stanford Online High School.

Redeveloping a Global MOOC to be More Locally Relevant

Barb has worked with many different countries to help bring the ideas of Learning How to Learn to learners internationally with “mother tongue” speakers, using versions of the course that grow from local culture and language.  (See, for example, this Russian version of Learning How to Learn for Youth from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and this Spanish version of Learning How to Learn from IE University in Spain.)  Here is a full-fledged paper on the topic, “Redeveloping a Global MOOC to be More Locally Relevant,” by Professor Kenzen Chen of National Chiao Tung University and Barb. If you want a good research project for your university, as well as a great enterprise for learners in your country, you will get fruitful ideas about MOOC redevelopment from Kenzen and Barb’s paper. Incidentally, Kenzen and Barb’s joint efforts in redeveloping Learning How to Learn for Chinese audiences won Taiwan’s “Best MOOC of the Year” award. Also see the paper “Leveraging Multilingual Learning Communities in a Global Environment,” by Orlando Trejo, the Spanish Lead of LHTL, on strategies to foster the participation of Spanish speaking learners, based on the feedback from learners at Spanish LHLT. 

A Plot of Land for a University in Malaga, Spain—Any Takers? 

In a bit of off-beat news for the week, there is a free plot of land available for a university to be constructed in Malaga, Spain.  Malaga has the best-connected airport to UK in the world, a very interesting mix of population along the coast and a great location next to Africa, where new middle classes are now emerging.  It also has a great cultural scene thanks to Museums like the Picasso Museum, (Malaga is the birthplace of the genius). On top of all of that, Malaga has amongst the world’s nicest climates. If you know of an institution with an interest in this, please have them contact Barb’s friend Berta Gonzalez.

Thoughtful Insights about Listening to Audible Books and Mirror Writing

LHTLer Adam Weissman writes to point out: “I love your Learning to Learn books and the course on Coursera. I’m a career changer thanks to you, my wife, and two kids (4 and 1 — I’m 37). I don’t think I’d have had the courage if not for your books (and Sejnowski’s Deep Learning Revolution) to embark on this new journey as a software engineer.

“Though I had been an aspiring novelist/screenwriter (Dostoevsky is my favorite) before the software journey, my day job is still Dog Walker.  I make the most out of my day by listening to several books a week while walking. I’ve heard that Uber drivers, Truckers, and anyone else that does manual labor in isolation does the same thing as me.  Audible in some ways is our only link to preserving an intellectual life. I had even done your Coursera course while walking dogs on my iPhone. When I’m home with the family, it’s impossible to read physical books — especially since the software course accounts for much of that time as well.

“The reason I’m writing today is I recently finished the Walter Isaacson book on Da Vinci. [We reviewed this fine book here.] I try many unconventional approaches to learning, and it occurred to me that there may have been a deeper reason for Da Vinci’s mirror writing.

“My question for you: would mirror writing cause the formation of more neural connections, since you have to mentally decode it. Da Vinci studied optics and understood that images would be flipped as with a camera obscura. He must’ve wondered about how invisible input (information and ideas) would be imprinted. Could mirror writing have been an attempt to get a “double dose” of the input? Or, to eliminate an imaginary step of the brain “right siding up” the information?

“As I do my own brief experiment with mirror writing, I find that looking at it forces me to recall the information in a way that seems to make it stickier since it forces me to decode it. Also, it forces me to be more conscious about what I’m writing.”

There’s evidence from research that thinking in new patterns, as Adam suggests, can be helpful with understanding in fresh ways.  If you have any comments on Adam’s thoughtful email, please go to the discussion forum here. (Just go to the top post in the main discussion forum if the link doesn’t work.)  And, we’d like to add, we suspect that Adam is a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered as a writer!


Our apologies for the misattribution of the wonderful article, “We Teach Our Kids To Be Doormats And Then Wonder Why There Is A ‘Bullying Epidemic’,” which was in the Daily Wire, not Wired

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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