The Science of Learning

17) David Perkins. “Teaching for Understanding.” American Educator, 1993. Perkins looks at the meaning of understanding and how we should try and teach to help children understand all the information the school gives them. Perkins explains why we should view understanding not as a state of possession but one of enablement.

18) National Research Council. “How Children Learn.” In How People Learn, 2000. This chapter comes from the US National Academy of Science and it gives an up-to-date review of what is now known about how children learn in the first few years of life.

19) Renata and Geoffrey Caine. “Mind/Brain Learning Principles” and “Downshifting” from Educational Leadership, 1991. These articles elucidate the Caine’s principles for brain-based learning. Their principles suggest that schools need to move beyond simplistic, narrow approaches to teaching and learning.

20) John Bruer. A review of Schools for Thought, 1993. This review gives an overview of key concepts from cognitive science such as meta-cognition, transfer and learning for understanding.

21) Howard Gardner. “A Consersation with Howard Gardner.” Educational Leadership, 1993. In this interview Howard Gardner explains his concept of the “unschooled mind.” Gardner talks about current knowledge of how children develop, and how schools work, so as to provide the basis for educational practice that promote true understanding.

22) Robert Fisher. “Thinking to Learn.” In Teaching Children to Learn, 1995. This chapter provides a general overview of some basic cognitive science concepts – multiple intelligences, meta-cognition and the main thinkers behind the cognitive revolution of the last half of the 20th century. Fisher also describes how these concepts can be used by teachers to improve what they do in the classroom.

23) John Cleveland. “Learning at the Edge of Chaos,” 1994. This article brings the emerging science of complexity to discussions around human learning, brain development and education. It is a must read for those people who want to better understand the complexities of human learning and the brain.

24) Allan Collins, John Seely Brown and Ann Holum. “Cognitive Apprenticeship: Making thinking visible.” American Educator, 1991. This seminal article on cognitive apprenticeship shows why making learning visible must be the goal of education if it is to help children not only receive information but actually be able to do something with it. This is one of the more important articles we have ever come across.

25) Jerome Bruner. “Knowing as Doing.” From The Culture of Education, 1996. One of the 20th century’s most influential educators explains why the Chinese adage “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Let me do and I understand,” is as close to a universal truth about human learning as you can get.

26) The Institute for Learning. “Learning How to Learn,” 1998. This looks at learning in the workplace and explains how insights from effective learning in the office can influence the classroom.

27) Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter. “Schools as Knowledge-Building Organizations,” 2000. Two of Canada’s leading learning theorists tease out organizational principles for effective learning organizations. This article explains why much of the bureaucratic nature of modern schooling is actually antithetical to children’s learning.

28) John Abbott and Terry Ryan. “Constructing Knowledge and Shaping Minds.” Educational Leadership, 1999. In this article Abbott and Ryan explain why our current understandings about human learning require a serious reappraisal of the view that schools can prepare children for the challenges of the knowledge age by themselves.

29) National Research Council. “How Experts Differ from Novices.” In How People Learn, 2000. This chapter explains the nature of expertise and how teachers can develop it in students. This is a must read for teachers who want to help students go beyond what comes naturally.

30) Roger C. Schank and John B. Cleaves. “Natural Learning, Natural Teaching: Changing human memory.” In The Mind, The Brain and Complex Adaptive Systems, 1995. This article is a staggering critic of classroom based learning. The authors central premise is that “the method people naturally employ to acquire knowledge is largely unsupported by traditional classroom practice.” This is an important article.

31) Teresa Amabile. “How to Kill Creativity.” Harvard Business Review, 1998. In this article Amabile explains why people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interests, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself – not by external pressures. This article raises serious questions about educational policies that seek to educate creative children through the use of carrots and sticks.

32) Robert J. Sternberg. “What Should We Ask About Intelligence.” The American Scholar, 1996. In a very personal way Sternberg explains why intelligence is far more than that measured by an IQ test.

33) Howard Gardner. “A Multiplicity of Intelligences.” Scientific American, 1999. In a discussion with America’s leading science magazine the founder of multiple intelligences explains his concepts and describes those who have epitomized each one. This is a great article for those people who kind of understand the concept of multiple intelligences, but really feel the need to know more.

34) Carol Dweck. “Can too much Praise be Dangerous?” American Educator, 1999. This article explains why unearned praise damages the emotional strength of children. It’s a must read for those who think every successful, no matter how minor, activity should be rewarded. It seeks a balance.

35) Deborah Blum. “What’s the Difference between Boys and Girls.” Life, 2000. We all know that little boys and girls are different, but do we take this fact into account in how we teach each? This article helps us value what we have always sort of known but never fully appreciated.