The Viking Heart

19th January 2022

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World, by Arthur Herman.  Seeing as how 23&Me revealed that Barb is roughly 70% Scandinavian, with intriguing dollops of Egyptian and Eastern European mixed into the gene-pool, she figured it was time to learn a bit more about her ancestry. (And who, she has long wondered, was her “Black Norwegian” grandfather?)  

This fascinating book answers all these questions, and many more.  Whether of Scandinavian descent or not, after all, one can’t help but wonder how a small group of Scandinavians perched on the outer edge of Europe could have had such an outsized influence on how European history unfolded.  

It all started, it seems, with naval technology: 

“The big change came when Scandinavian sailors introduced the square sail, which, when combined with oars for propulsion, turned the Viking ship into an unsurpassed maritime instrument. It made for swift and sure navigation across large bodies of water: comparisons with the flight of birds, made by poets and others, were inevitable… Viking ships were built to last. They were broad in the beam, as buoyant as giant water lilies, and equipped with a new nautical technology: the single oaken plank running along the bottom of the ship, from stem to stern, known as the keel (in Old Norse, kjǫlr), which the Vikings invented in the seventh century. It was the keel that gave the Viking ship its stability in any kind of sea and any kind of weather. A single sixty-foot pine mast (from the Norse word mastr, meaning ‘tree’) raised in the dead center of the vessel, with a three-hundred-square-foot sail attached, gave the vessel the wind power it needed to travel anywhere…. When a Viking vessel had to make its way up a river such as the Seine or the Thames or the Volga, its mast could be struck and laid aside and the oars lowered, so that the crew’s muscle power could take over. Viking ships, with a draft of eighteen inches fully loaded, were well designed for these waterways.”

This book will help knit together your understanding of a small group of people whose influence was broad through history. Now, thankfully, that influence is felt in peaceful realms!

“The Science of Teaching” conference by Learning & the Brain in San Franciscoand Virtually!

Barb will be keynoting at the “Science of Teaching: Applying Brain Science and COVID Lessons to Improve Teaching, Schools, and Learning Spaces” conference being held at the Fairmont in San Franciscoand also virtually via Zoom!

You will learn about:

  • Ways to create personalized, learner-centered classrooms
  • The science of sleep and improving schedules and start times
  • How COVID lessons learned can be used to improve education
  • The science of teaching and using brain research in the classroom
  • Using design thinking and redesigning spaces for effective learning
  • The science of learning and making learning engaging and personal
  • How EEG devices and partnerships are bringing research into schools
  • Improving blended learning, teen learning, and brain development
  • Strategies for spacing, retrieval practice, memory, and motivation
  • Rethinking reading, grades, assessments, and school leadership
  • Ways to improve mindsets and social-emotional learning

The high quality of this conference means it’s a “must see” for educators, parents, administrators, and many more.  Barb hopes to see you thereor on Zoom!

Join the Spanish-Speaking LHTL community in the “Aprendiendo a Aprender” Cohort 

For those looking forward to revisit, discuss and get a deeper exploration of the topics covered in “Learning How to Learn” in Spanish language, the Class Central Cohort “Aprendiendo a Aprender will be starting Jan 24, 2022. Hosted by our Spanish lead and Instructor Orlando Trejo, this cohort format and the weekly live sessions will be an excellent opportunity for Spanish-speakers to group together around the subjects of learning and improvement (and also team together to study the MOOC “Aprendiendo Aprender”). Newcomers are welcome! More information in Spanish here

Are you implementing the ideas of Learning How to Learn and Uncommon Sense Teaching in your classroom, school, or school district?

Anna Claire McKay of University School of Nashville, writes: 

“I am fortunate to be the Learning Coordinator of a middle school in Nashville, TN. Over the past couple of years, the work of Dr. Oakley and her colleagues has confirmed my desire to make the science of learning more explicit for our students and their teachers.  While we have been successful in pockets of our middle school with this work, I’d like it to be better generalized across our whole program.  I’d like to pull parents into the fold more intentionally, as well.

“Has anyone created a master plan for implementing the learning science of Learning How to Learn, Uncommonsense Teaching, and Learn Like a Pro with 10-14-year-olds and their wonderful teachers?

“If you, too, have been bitten by this bug, I would appreciate the chance to hear your ideas about implementing the Learning How to Learn approach on a larger scale.  

“Please reach out to me at, and/or post here in the discussion forum. I look forward to hearing from you!”

“Research Debt” and the juggernaut of Learning How to Learn

This excellent article by Google Brain team members Chris Olah and Shan Carter describes the vital importance of translating scientific work so that the ideas can be more broadly understood. “Developing good abstractions, notations, visualizations, and so forth, is improving the user interfaces for ideas. This helps both with understanding ideas for the first time and with thinking clearly about them.” 

Last week we had over 14,000 new learners sign up for Learning How to Learnour “Cheery Friday” email now goes out to nearly 3 million learners.  Translational work such as what we do here in LHTL is indeed appreciated!

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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