Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

Learn how to learn from books

November 3, 2007

For those of us who are no longer in school, it is necessary, if we want to go on learning and discovering, to know how to make books teach us well.  In that situation, if we want to go on learning, then we must know how to learn from books, which are absent teachers.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren

Why learning longhand writing is important

August 23, 2007

A while ago I was talking with a friend. She has two children. She was telling me that she didn’t want her kids to learn longhand writing. She felt that the time could be spent more profitably learning other things. After all, who writes in longhand anymore?

I got to thinking about this. Here’s what I think.

Want to increase your IQ? Then learn new ways to manipulate your hands.

It has been discovered that a significant chunk of your brain corresponds to manipulating your hand. Every time you learn a new hand movement, you create new neural connections in your brain. Thus, you become smarter!

So, I think that children should learn to write longhand because longhand requires learning many sophisticated hand manipulations. And as we’ve just seen, perfecting new hand manipulations will yield new neural connections in the brain.

In other words, developing the skill of longhand writing makes kids smarter.

Fragile Knowledge

July 2, 2007

Many people are unable to apply things they learn in textbooks to things in the real world. Richard Feynman calls such textbook learning “fragile knowledge”. Here he gives an example:

“The French curve is made so that at the lowest point on each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal … All the guys in the class were holding their French curve up at different angles, and discovering that, sure enough, the tangent is horizontal. They were all excited by this ‘discovery’ — even though they had already gone through a certain amount of calculus and had already ‘learned’ that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any curve is zero (horizontal). They didn’t put two and two together. They didn’t even know what they ‘knew’ … I don’t know what’s the matter with people; they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way — by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile.”