The War of Art

2nd May 2019

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield. This short book reframes your creative work, whatever that might be, as war. The battle goes to the most cunning! Pressman has the street cred to write a book of this sort—it took him 17 years of writing to get his first paycheck, but his debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, became the film directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron. Pressfield graduated from Duke, and has been a U.S. Marine, an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital and screenwriter. He’s our kind of guy, in other words. This is also a good book for audio. (Two free audiobooks may be possible through this link.)

Rein in the Four Horsemen of Irreproducibility in Scientific Research

This outstanding essay by Dorothy Bishop in Nature describes the most common problems in scientific research: “…many researchers persist in working in a way almost guaranteed not to deliver meaningful results. They ride with what I refer to as the four horsemen of the reproducibility apocalypse: publication bias, low statistical power, P-value hacking and HARKing (hypothesizing after results are known). My generation and the one before us have done little to rein these in.”

Barb on New Zealand Television

Catch a quick vignette of Barb on “The AM Show” in Auckland, New Zealand.  Duncan needed encouragement, and Barb provides! To her surprise, the conversation about learning veered unexpectedly into pathologies of altruism.

Tips for the Test

As this explanation and video snippet about learning by Barb, Terry, and Greg reveal, “Techniques such as the ‘hard start’ can be transformative for students.” This comes via the Times Educational Supplementone of Britain’s best educational publications.

Good News for Older Folks from Research

This interesting article from The Scientist reveals “Using very strict protocols to preserve and process the brain tissue samples, Llorens-Martín and her colleagues identified thousands of immature neurons in the dentate gyrus—a part of the hippocampus related to memory-making—in neurologically healthy humans, even when they are in their eighties. ‘It is another strong piece of evidence that indeed there is adult neurogenesis in older people,’ Zhao says.

A Shout-Out to Your Favorite Coursera Instructors—and Mindshift Makes Course of the Week!

If you’d like, give a shout-out to your favorite Coursera instructors.  This is also a great site to visit to get ideas for the next MOOC you’d like to take.

AND our Mindshift MOOC makes the Coursera Community Course of the Week! If you haven’t taken Mindshift yet, you’re in for a treat!

Learn More about the Coursera Community

Pat Bowden of Online Learning Success is always full of insight into the world of MOOCs. Her post on the Coursera Community site is useful for anyone who loves Coursera MOOCs.

Trying to Learn Russian?

We’re fans of Olly Richards’ approaches to language learning. Olly has just published a wonderful compendium of advice for learning Russian. As Olly notes: “Russia is a major political and economic player in the world. It has a rich history dating back to Rus’, or Ruthenia, in the 11th century. Especially in recent years, the country has featured in the news often for a number of reasons.

“And yet, there seems to be a lack of interest in the West to truly understand Russia, its people, and its culture. People seem to confuse the politics of the country with its spirit. Learning Russian can help you get past this and uncover the “real” Russia for yourself.

“But of course, Russian is not only spoken in Russia. It is the official language of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is widely spoken in the Baltics, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.”

Check out Olly’s great article! Having recently been in Azerbaijan, Barb vouches for the fact that a little Russian can go a long way in former Soviet bloc countries. (Coming up this fall, Barb heads to Kazakhstan!)

Grappling with New Ways to Tackle Completion Rates

Several weeks ago, we mentioned the challenge of completion of both books and MOOCs.  Reader Francis Miller has blogged about this problem, at least in relation to books. He suggests providing “multiple levels of content so, if learners are only to spend, say, an hour on a MOOC or book, they are able to get a summary of the whole picture rather than all the detail of a small part of it.” Francis notes: “Christopher Alexander, the well-known architectural thinker, attempted to do this in his 1979 book The Timeless Way of Building where he has italicized text passages at the beginning, end and throughout each chapter in order to help readers get an overview of the ideas in the book.

Francis has written more about Christopher Alexander’s approach here.  Francis notes: “I don’t think Alexander’s solution is necessarily the most effective as it’s relatively hard work turning all the 549 pages in order to read his italicized passages! If you’re interested in alternative approaches to multi-level content, I’ve written about them here.”

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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