Upcoming European travels!

27th April 2023

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Don’t miss Barb on June 5th in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Reliance College “Jefferson” Dinner 

Last week, Barb was fortunate to attend the once-every-five-years FIRE Gala in New York City.  The Gala featured American rapper and social activist “Killer Mike,” who gave an extraordinary keynote on the value of free speech. (Barb was lucky enough to meet and get a big hug from Mike afterward.) In a tradition that Mike and the many FIRE Gala attendees have sustained even today, Thomas Jefferson was famous centuries ago for holding gourmet dinners with wine, at which guests sat in the round as equals and discussed riveting topics triggered by great questions. They talked about ideas, about what serves enlightenment, and  about the true purposes of life. 

Along these lines, Barb will be presenting on learning at the simultaneously avant garde and traditional “Jefferson” dinner on June 5th at the lovely City Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Registration is strictly limited to 60 people, so register here today.  (If there happen to be any seats left after May 15th, prices will increase from $95 to $145, so be sure to secure their ticket while the early bird discount—not to mention seats—are available.) Barb’s talk will be followed by guided discussions showcasing the Reliance College educational method.  Enjoy a delicious dinner and connect with others who share your interests. 

The mission of Reliance College is to provide a superior education that promotes the values of reason, individualism and a free society in which individual rights are respected and protected by the rule of law. Reliance’s teaching methods are specially crafted to instill the mores, the habits of thought and action, necessary for free, independent, self-reliant persons to be autonomous. If you are looking for a great college for the budding student in your life, look at Reliance. Again, register here soon so you can have the best possibility of attending!  

AI Tools for Teachers

Here is a wonderful linked list of new AI tools for teachers from Rachel Arthur, who writes “Given that around 2000 new AI tools were launched in March alone, it’s nearly impossible for teachers to stay updated on the latest and greatest tools. After all, we want AI to lessen our workload, not add to it with constant innovations. To help, I’ve compiled a list of the best AI tools for teachers, categorised and summarised below…” The list includes links to help with lesson planning, marking and report writing, personal assistants, personalized learning, creativity, useful chatbots for teachers, and much more! [Hat tip Jeremy McCrohan]

Barb in Northern Europe through May

Barb will be visiting a slew of northern European institutions through May and the beginning of June, including the countries listed below.  (Reach out to barbo8@gmail.com to check the potential for any additional speaking engagements in those countries.)

Sweden (Ann Rudman, ann.rudman@ki.se)

  • May 8, Karolinska Institutet
  • May 10 Dalarna University


  • May 16 Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, (Maria Forss, maria.forss@arcada.fi)


  • May 19 University of Tartu, Tartu (Kaja-Triin Laisaar, kaja-triin.laisaar@ut.ee)


  • May 23, Riga Stradins University, Riga (Katrīna Elizabete Puriņa-Biezā, KatrinaElizabete.Purina-Bieza@rsu.lv)


  • May 25 Vilnius University, (Natalja Istomina, natalja.istomina@mf.vu.lt) 


  • May 30 Volvo (online, Wieslawa Topinska, wieslawa.Topinska@volvo.com)
  • May 31-June 2 Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Adam Trybus, adam.trybus@gmail.com)

Barb’s teacher professional development speaking schedule

Barb’s August schedule is filling fast for entertaining, yet insightful teacher professional development workshops based on neuroscience—she will be speaking at some of the top US high schools.  Reach out to barbo8@gmail.com if you are looking for engaging, inspiring, practically-useful professional development.

Powerful Teaching in Spanish!

As many of you know, we’re huge fans of Pooja Agarwal & Patrice Bain’s Powerful Teaching, which we consider to be one of the best books ever written to guide teachers in best learning practices for the classroom. Here are many of the tools related to Powerful Teaching translated into Spanish. And yes, Pooja and Patrice’s book has also been translated into Spanish as Enseñanza efectiva: Herramientas de la ciencia cognitiva para el aula. ¡Disfrutar!

Stossel in the Classroom with Barb

If you missed Barb with iconoclastic thinker John Stossel describing insights useful for classroom teaching, catch the link here!  (We love how John flippantly hurls his cards to the side as he thinks on his feet while in his seat.)

‘Algebra for none’ fails in San Francisco

This insightful article by Joanne Jacobs describes how the San Francisco Unified School District’s decision to delay algebra until 9th grade and place low, average and high achievers in the same classes (“detrack”) has actually worsened equity instead of improving it.  Why? High income parents have in desperation paid for extra schooling.  Lower income parents, of course, have had to make do with the (sub) standard fare.  Thus, just as predicted by critics, San Francisco’s attempts to improve equity have instead worsened it.

The dark side of detracking: Mixed-ability classrooms negatively affect the academic self-concept of students with low academic achievement

This recent major study in the journal Learning and Instruction used data from two detracking school reforms involving approximately 80,000 students and “employed a cohort-control design to compare cohorts before detracking with cohorts after detracking. In both studies, students with low academic achievement had a lower self-concept in untracked cohorts than in the tracked ones. However, the self-concept of students with high academic achievement did not differ between the cohorts. [This] study highlights potential side effects of detracking school reforms that might result from students with low academic achievement being exposed to unfavorable social comparison processes.”

We should point out that the Palo Alto Unified School District, a leader in the detracking effort, has been extremely reluctant to make the data from their de-tracking experiment available to the public. But outcome data is apparently starting to appear revealing that the number of D’s and F’s in algebra has exploded.  PAUSD’s response apparently has been to ban D’s and F’s.  

Chalk & Talka podcast about learning math

Everyone wants to see children and young adults succeed in math, but it can be difficult to sort myths from facts in education. Join math professor Anna Stokke, for conversations with leading educators about the importance of math, effective teaching methods, and debunking common myths about math and teaching. Chalk and Talk is a podcast for anyone interested in education, including educators, parents Anna’s first 4 episodes include giants in the field of math education: John Mighton, Paul Kirschner, Amanda VanDerHeyden and Greg Ashman.  The incomparable Barry Garelick (author of Traditional Math) will appear  on May 4, and Barb will appear on May 18. 

The Wondrous Connections between Mathematics and Literature

Here is a wonderful New York Times article by British mathematician Sarah Hart relating math and literature. [Hat tip, James Haupert, founder and CEO of Center for Home Schooling.]

Informative overview of the field of education from New Zealand

It can be helpful to learn of other country’s perspectives on education.  Here is an insightful podcast on education from the New Zealand Initiative. After an introduction about the different speakers’ educational backgrounds, host Oliver Hartwich takes the discussion deeper, to bring up the core tenants of the Enlightenment and how universities are currently shifting away from Enlightenment values of curiosity and openness.  As Matthew Birchall notes (01:08:40): 

“I had the great fortune of being quite close to a very prominent historian of the Enlightenment. He’d worked on 18th-century Scottish philosophy…. And he would always impress on you just how much people had to struggle in the past to make good arguments. For the 18th century philosophers, the currency was good argument. It should be for us as well. And we’ve lost sight of that. And I think if we want to rekindle that spirit, people in university departments need to push for that, to advocate for that freedom of inquiry, encourage people to put their ideas out, to make arguments.” 

Why so many athletic coaches, but so few coaches in learning how to learn?

Steve Batty asks that prescient question about the lack of coaching about learning—the main mission of schools.  And we ourselves have long marveled that students can go through 12 to 16 years of education, without a single course in learning how to learn.  Steve is interested in working with local high schools using the Learning How to Learn book to help coach kids about learning.  If you might know of any schools that are coaching their students about learning how to learn using the Learning How to Learn book, (or any other approaches), please read out to Steve at sbatty@mccooknet.com.

Don’t forget to register for the Everest Memory Masterclass with 5 time US Memory Champion Nelson Dellis

With proven memory techniques and personalized instruction from Nelson himself, the course will teach you how to remember all the important things in life. Registration for this year’s cohort opens on May 1st, 2023, so remember to jump on his email waitlist to get notified when it goes live! 

That’s all for now. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

For kids and parents: Learning How to Learnthe book and MOOC. Pro tipwatch the videos and read the book together with your child. Learning how to learn at an early age will change their life!

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