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Better Ways to Learn


Oct. 6, 2014 New York Times

In the new book, “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens” (Random House), Benedict Carey, a science reporter for The New York Times, challenges the notion that a high test score equals true learning. He argues that although a good grade may be achieved in the short term by cramming for an exam, chances are that most of the information will be quickly lost. Indeed, he argues, most students probably don’t need to study more — just smarter.

Mr. Carey offers students old and young a new blueprint for learning based on decades of brain science, memory tests and learning studies. He upends the notion that “hitting the books” is all that is required to be a successful student, and instead offers a detailed exploration of the brain to reveal exactly how we learn, and how we can maximize that potential.

“Most of us study and hope we are doing it right,” Mr. Carey says. “But we tend to have a static and narrow notion of how learning should happen.”

For starters, long and focused study sessions may seem productive, but chances are you are spending most of your brainpower on trying to maintain your concentration for a long period of time. That doesn’t leave a lot of brain energy for learning.

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