Urban Myths about Learning and Education


Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

Urban Myths about Learning and Education, by Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, and Casper D. Hulshof. This book, originally published in 2015 (and followed by a 2019 sequel), is as topical as ever. Killing commonly repeated educational myths is, it seems, its own cottage industry, although it probably isn’t nearly as lucrative as the sales of learning styles assessments. What we particularly like about Bruyckere et al’s book is the personal nature of the writing. Sometimes it feels as if a good friend is writing to you, making mildly snarky side-comments about the strange things they’re discovering when trying to detect the source of some of education’s most popular—and utterly bogus—imagery and ideas. Sometimes seemingly solid research citations lead nowhere. Anyone involved in education would find gold in this easy-to-read but thought-provoking book.

Steven Strogatz on Synchronization, Networks, and the Emergence of Complex Behavior

We’re big fans of Steven Strogatz, (see our review of his wonderful Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe).  So it was a pleasure reading Steven’s interview on Sean Carroll’s Mindscape Podcast (look around and you’ll see the link if you would prefer to read instead of listen). Barb’s daughter Rachel was inspired by Steven to switch from being an artist to instead apply for and now be deep in the throes of graduate studies in statistics.  Now that’s an inspiring author!

Una mente per i numeri: Un metodo di studio (non solo) per la matematica

Yes, A Mind for Numbers is now out in an Italian edition. Let your Italian family or friends know!

Useful Insights on Teaching MathAnd a Delightfully Nerdy Football Cheer

LHTLer Stephen Greenberg, a mechanical engineer turned math teacher, notes “In the Spring of ’64, I went to see the Director of Personnel at the Buffalo (NY) public schools, mostly as a curiosity. He asked me if I knew anything about math or science, and I explained my education. Three minutes into the interview, he asked ‘When can you start?’ That’s how desperate that district was for math and science teachers. Two things I have stressed to both my students and their parents, understanding and fluency. It has been, and continues to be, one joyous ride. Not such a bad thing to memorize something beautiful like the nearly isosceles 20, 21, 29 right triangle.”

Stephen also sends along the football cheer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute RPI, (not particularly noted for sports excellence):

e to the x, dy dx

e to the x dx

square root, cube root, cosine, sine


disintegrate ’em, RPI!

A New Timer for Pomodoro Aficionados

LHTLer Raymond Griffiths sent along a link to this intriguing new countdown timer, currently under production and just beginning to ship. If you like the Pomodoro, this might be just the ticket for you. (But read the comments if you’re concerned about the shipping date.)

A Brief History of the Whole Universal Grammar Kerfuffle

Here’s a quick review of the recent history of linguistics research: What do all languages have in common? – Cameron Morin. We feel that linguistic and language research is going to be a hot area, what with all the data and advances that artificial intelligence is making available. [Hat tip: Steven Cooke]

Defending Explaining Postmodernism

One of our favorite books of philosophy is Stephen Hicks’ Explaining Postmodernism, which we reviewed previously.  Here’s Stephen’s eloquent podcast rebuttal to kibitzing on the margins.

PhD Comics

An old joke about becoming a Ph.D., has it that “B.S.” stands for “bullsh*t,” “M.S.” for “More of the Same” (or “More Sh*t”), and “Ph.D.” stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper.” We’ve heard good things about (and enjoyed!) Ph.D Comics. This article by Sara Coelho in Science notes that Ph.D. Comics deals with “everyday frustrations of life in the lab – procrastination, dealing with advisers, serving on committees, lack of inspiration…Supervisors interested in learning what’s on their students’ minds might find PHD an illuminating place to start.” 

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

View more Cheery Friday e-mails >