Sunday, January 22, 2023

Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning is Hard and How You Can Make It Easy

Outsmart Your Brain is a practical manual full of good strategies for learning how to learn and retain information collected and curated by Dr. Daniel Willingham. Due out 24th Jan 2023 from Simon & Schuster on their Gallery imprint, it's 336 pages and will be available in hardback, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback due out in 3rd quarter 2023 from the same publisher. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

This is a well researched, practice based guide to learning how to learn. The information is aimed at doing well and performing in school, but there are great takeaways for all-ages (meeting participants, committees, work groups, etc).

The information is arranged thematically: How to:

  • understand lectures, 
  • take notes, 
  • learn from labs/activities/demonstrations, 
  • reorganize notes, 
  • read difficult books, 
  • study for exams, 
  • judge exam readiness
  • take tests
  • learn from past exams
  • plan work
  • defeat procrastination (super good tips)
  • stay focused
  • gain self confidence
  • cope with anxiety

The author writes authoritatively and accessibly in plain language and includes practical, usable, concrete suggestions for improving performance and learning. Throughout the book, Dr. Willingham includes anecdotes from his career as an educator which underline *how* to make learning *enjoyable* (and thus more successful). I sincerely wish I'd had access to this book during my own study years. 

The bibliography is full of well curated/analyzed sources and likely worth the price of the book for educators and teachers.

Five stars. This would be a superlative choice for public or school library acquisition, as well as home use. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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