“How We Learn” by Stanislas Dehaene is a comprehensive exploration of the latest neuroscience research on learning, covering topics such as attention, perception, memory, and reasoning. The book offers practical insights into effective learning strategies, including the importance of motivation, engagement, feedback, active learning, and spaced repetition, based on scientific evidence.
💭 What I think about it
If you’ve followed my content for a while, you know that I continue to argue how learning to learn is arguably the most important factor for academic success. I loved this book as it debunks many learning myths (learning styles, rereading, highlighting, etc) and surfaces the science-based principles that work. It’s a great read to understand recent advances in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and education sciences and includes practical applications that lead to a better was to learn.
🌟 Who benefits from reading this book?
Basically, anyone interested in how our brains work and how we can optimize learning. It’s well-written and highly accessible. Dehaene, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the Collège de France, examines the different processes involved in learning, including attention, perception, memory, and reasoning. He also delves into the brain’s capacity for learning, discussing topics such as neuroplasticity and the role of sleep in memory consolidation.
📚 How the book changed my life
The book increased my understanding of the meta-layers of learning. Dehaene provides fascinating insights into how our brains work and how we can optimize our learning to improve our lives in both personal and professional domains.
✍️ My Favorite Quotes
- No, learning does not occur passively through simple exposure to data or lectures: on the contrary, cognitive psychology and brain imaging show us that children are budding scientists, constantly generating new hypotheses, and that the brain is an ever-alert organ that learns by testing the models it projects onto the outside world.
- No, errors are not the mark of bad students: making mistakes is an integral part of learning, because our brain can adjust its models only when it discovers a discrepancy between what it envisioned and reality.
- No, sleep is not just a period of rest: it is an integral part of our learning algorithm, a privileged period during which our brain plays its models in a loop and enhances the experience of the day by a factor of ten to one hundred.
- Pay attention to attention. Attention is the gateway to learning: virtually no information will be memorized if it has not previously been amplified by attention and awareness.
- We should expose children to a second language as early as possible. We should also bear in mind that plasticity extends at least until adolescence. During this entire period, foreign language immersion can transform the brain.
- Keep children active, curious, engaged, and autonomous. Passive students do not learn much. Make them more active. Engage their intelligence so that their minds sparkle with curiosity and constantly generate new hypotheses.
- Just as medicine is based on biology, the field of education must be grounded in a systematic and rigorous research
an ecosystem that brings together teachers, patients, and researchers, in a ceaseless search for more effective, evidence-based learning strategies.