Uncommon Sense Teaching


Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

ASEE Presents: Barb’s Synchronous Master Class On Effective Teaching

Barb and colleagues (and a special mystery guest!) will be doing the first live webinar presenting practical insights and ideas from their groundbreaking new book Uncommon Sense Teaching, (more info below 🙂 ) This workshop, on the afternoons of January 6, 7, and 8th, 2021, gives an unprecedented look at new insights from neuroscience that give you practical tools that can help your students learn more effectively.  Whether you are teaching at a university, in K-12, in business, in athletics, or you-name-it, you will find this workshop provides  a common framework, terminology, and practical exercises to develop your instruction on a soundly neuroscientific basis. Plus, you can finally interact with Barb live! As is her usual teaching practice, (even on Zoom), she’ll be coming early and staying late to answer questions. Space is limited, so reserve your seat now

Teacher’s Book of a Lifetime

Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn, by Barbara Oakley, Beth Rogowsky, and Terrence Sejnowski.(Penguin Random House) Our master work for anyone involved in education is finally orderable! As a LHTLer, we know you like diving into learning. You’ll find this book is the first to give in-depth, yet practically useful insights for teachers, professors, trainers, coaches, parents and caregivers and lay readers to help guide their inclusive teaching and learning to diverse audiences—or simply to better understand the learning process. Overflowing with magnificent imagery, (some of which will leave you laughing) Uncommon Sense Teaching walks you through not only the how’s, but also the why’s of great teaching and great learning. For example, have you ever wondered why the explanations students (or adults) give you about their struggles with learning—or explanations about anything—sometimes don’t seem related to their real underlying motivations?  Wonder no more. As explained in this excerpt from Chapter 6:

“The procedural goal-directed system is where the declarative and procedural systems can work together. The declarative system (which you are aware of) ‘primes’ the procedural learning pump, but is not able to explain how the procedural system operates. (It’s a little like a child pushing ‘send’ on a text message without understanding how the message arrives at its destination.) All the mistakes and successes you make in learning how to drive shape your driving reflexes. You are perfectly conscious of your mistakes, but not about how they lead to smooth, automatic driving. This is why conscious control is slow and inefficient. Slowly, the procedural system takes over, and after a lot of repetition it becomes fluid and automatic.

“Incidentally, it’s not as if the interactions between the declarative and procedural systems are a one-way street. The conscious goals of the declarative system can be driven non-consciously by the basal ganglia procedural system. Procedural learning works by using a value function that it has built over many years of experience in dealing with complex, uncertain conditions in the world. The value function helps the procedural system to maximize future rewards. Rewards are typically innate (like food and water) or involve distant payoffs (like going to school).  If you ask someone why they made a decision, they can devise a story that has little to do with the procedural system’s value function. This is because the value function for procedural goal-based learning is as inaccessible to consciousness as the procedural habit-based value function for bike riding. Putting it bluntly, the declarative system is clueless when it comes to the procedural system.

“As a more specific example, when you meet someone for the first time, you have a ‘gut feeling’ about them.  Where did that come from? After all, you have never met them before. If you try to articulate your feelings, you will make up some story about their mannerisms or facial appearance, but the real reasons go back to how you have been brought up, as well as the many people you have met in your life and your outcomes interacting with them, even though you may have forgotten them. This is also why politics and religion can be such fraught topics. Inclinations in this area are driven in part by nonconscious motivations arising from the procedural system. This means that conscious, declarative discussion generally cannot get at the real motivations.”

Rave reviews about Uncommon Sense Teaching from top educators are already pouring in:

 “The authors bring to this highly practical, user-friendly book a deep understanding of teachers and classrooms, the implications of neuroscientific findings for successful teaching and learning, and the ability to write about complex ideas in an approachable way.”

     —Carol Ann Tomlinson, EdD, author of How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms

Uncommon Sense Teaching is the first book I’ve found that perfectly blends neuroscience, cognitive psychology, learning strategies/theories, and practical tips for teachers into one delicious meal. Not too heavy on the neuro, not too light on the cognitive, large portions of learning and teaching implications served with a sauce of witty and accessible writing. If there were a Michelin Guide for education books, this one would receive a 3-star rating.”

     —Paul A. Kirschner, Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology, Open University of the Netherlands

“There are two reasons why everyone involved in education and training should read Uncommon Sense Teaching. First, the book integrates neuroscience, human cognition, and education into a coherent whole that is unique. Second, the writing is exceptionally clear, managing to convey complex ideas with infectious enthusiasm. The result is a masterpiece.”

     —John Sweller, Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology, University of New South Wales

A Favor for Barb and Terry

If you’d like to learn more about teaching learning (and also do Barb and Terry a big favor by pre-ordering the book), order your copy (and copies for friends!) of Uncommon Sense Teaching now.

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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