Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

by Daniel T. Willingham

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470591963
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/15/2010
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 166,231
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Daniel T. Willingham is professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. He writes the popular Ask the Cognitive Scientist column for American Educator magazine.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

The Author ix

Introduction 1

CHAPTER 1 Why Don’t Students Like School? 3

CHAPTER 2 How Can I Teach Students the Skills They Need WhenStandardized Tests Require Only Facts? 25

CHAPTER 3 Why Do Students Remember Everything That’s onTelevision and Forget Everything I Say? 53

CHAPTER 4 Why Is It So Hard for Students to Understand AbstractIdeas? 87

CHAPTER 5 Is Drilling Worth It?  107

CHAPTER 6 What’s the Secret to Getting Students to ThinkLike Real Scientists, Mathematicians, and Historians? 127

CHAPTER 7 How Should I Adjust My Teaching for Different Types ofLearners? 147

CHAPTER 8 How Can I Help Slow Learners? 169

CHAPTER 9 What About My Mind? 189

Conclusion 207

End Notes 214

Index 217

Credit Lines 225

What People are Saying About This

Randi Weingarten

"Just like his Ask the Cognitive Scientist column, Dan Willingham'sbook makes fascinating but complicated research from cognitive science accessible to teachers. It is jam packed with ideas that teachers willfind both intellectually rich and useful in their classroom work."--(Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers)

Joe Riener

"Scientists know so much more than we knew thirty years ago about how children learn. This book offers you the research, and the arguments,that will help you become a more effective teacher."--(Joe Riener, English teacher, Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.)

Jay Mathews

"Dan Willingham, rare among cognitive scientists for also being awonderful writer, has produced a book about learning in school that readslike a trip through a wild and thrilling new country. For teachers and parents, even students, there are surprises on every page. Did you know, for instance,that our brains are not really made for thinking?"--(Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post)

From the Publisher

"Just like his Ask the Cognitive Scientist column, Dan Willingham's book makes fascinating but complicated research from cognitive science accessible to teachers. It is jam packed with ideas that teachers willfind both intellectually rich and useful in their classroom work."
—Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers

"This readable, practical book by a distinguished cognitivescientist explains the universal roots of effective teaching and learning. With great wit and authority it practices the principles it preaches. It is the best teachers' guide I know of—a classic that belongs in the book bag of every teacher from preschool to grad school."
—E. D. Hirsch, Jr., university professor emeritus, University of Virginia

"Dan Willingham, rare among cognitive scientists for also being awonderful writer, has produced a book about learning in school that readslike a trip through a wild and thrilling new country. For teachers and parents, even students, there are surprises on every page. Did you know, for instance,that our brains are not really made for thinking?"
—Jay Mathews, education columnist,The Washington Post

"Educators will love this wonderful book—in clear and compelling language, Willingham shows how the most important discoveries from the cognitive revolution can be used to improve teaching and inspire students in the classroom."
—John Gabrieli, Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences,Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Scientists know so much more than we knew thirty years ago about how children learn. This book offers you the research, and the arguments,that will help you become a more effective teacher."
—Joe Riener, English teacher, Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.

“A must read for those wishing to improve their classroom and those looking for ways to help their students be successful.”
—G.L. Willhite, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse—Highly Recommended

John Gabrieli

"Educators will love this wonderful book-in clear and compelling language, Willingham shows how the most important discoveries from the cognitive revolution can be used to improve teaching and inspire students in the classroom."--(John Gabrieli, Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences,Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

E. D. Hirsch Jr.

"This readable, practical book by a distinguished cognitivescientist explains the universal roots of effective teaching and learning.With great wit and authority it practices the principles it preaches!?It isthe best teachers' guide I know of-a classic that belongs in the book bag of every teacher from preschool to grad school."--(E. D. Hirsch, Jr., university professor emeritus, University of Virginia)

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Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
K-P More than 1 year ago
Willingham covers the cognitive science of why students may think school is difficult. However, he doesn't ever come right out and answer the question in the title. Maybe he intends for readers to surmise their own answer after reading the book. All in all, a valuable text with up-to-date, valid information.
VRM-mentor More than 1 year ago
As a 32 year veteran teacher I found this book both informative and innovative. I found the introduction of each chapter giving me the what and why, then the rest of the chapters giving the how to deal with the what and why, in a very useful and understandable manner. So many times in education we get a book that is just the what and why or just the how. Combining both facets into each chapter allows the reader to explore the entire issue and not just bits and pieces. I enjoyed the discussion tone the book offered. Sometimes I felt that I could sit and discuss his understandings of how students learn and come up with more useful tools to use in my own classroom. This book is for the teacher who wants a better understanding of how a student learns, techniques to improve that learning and focus on the whole child. Mr. Willingham used a variety of examples, not just limiting the "discussion" to one subject area. He provides enough detail to become proficient but not so much that the reader is overwhelmed. I plan on reading this book again so that I can truly grasp the information presented. So much of what he describes as student behavior, is behavior that I have observed in my classroom. I would recommend this book for any teacher, new or veteran.
maggiesaunt More than 1 year ago
As a teacher for over forty years, I was eager to see what this book with the enticing title contained. What I found was waaaaaaaaaaaay too much information about brain function and too little practical advice for the classroom. My experience has been that teachers want to know what to do to keep kids focused and learning; we don't need the theories about WHY we should do that. After only a few chapters, I realized that the latter pages of each chapter contained the suggestions for practical applications that I was hoping for. I tried reading those pages first for a few chapters and found that skipping the early theory pages really didn't impede my understanding of the "practical suggestions" at the end of each chapter. Unfortunately for this author, I had also purchased FAIR ISN'T ALWAYS EQUAL by Rich Wormeli and found that book significantly more readable and practical, with suggestions for classroom applications I can use immediately. I usually pass on good book to my friends. Unfortunately, the title of this one is more engaging than the contents, so I will be very selective about sharing it.
collprof More than 1 year ago
Dr. Daniel Willingham has written a concise compendium of tips, strategies and teaching methods for any teacher who wants their students to obtain academic mastery, I must report that such mastery would be locked in memory with meaning as so eloquently expressed by Dr. Willingham throughout his text. His focus on learning background knowledge first before commencing critical thinking was well stated over and over as a constant theme. Dr. Willingham used real life examples of how to develop lessons with what the teacher really wants their students to think about. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this text and highly recommend it for any professional educator. Dr. Mike Borders.
tobagotim on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book is telling me how MY mind works and how I can make better use of it. I am not a classroom teacher. I have, however, watched the teachers who taught my kids over the years. The most successful of these was a first grade teacher. Since my son was in first grade in 1971-2, this teacher did not have the benefit of Prof. Willingham's book. However, she did manage to implement a teaching atmosphere in her classroom that followed many of the observations in this book. The result was that the next year, most of the second grade teachers in the school recognized the students who had been with my son's first grade class, and defined their job as bringing the other students up to their level by the end of the year.The job of a good teacher is complicated and requires a lot of organizational skills, as well as thought in planning and delivering a lesson that will connect with each child's knowledge base.I recommend this book for teachers and administrators and for parents and grandparents.
bruchu on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A Practical Guide to TeachingI really enjoyed reading this book, Willingham is a Harvard trained psychologist but he avoids a lot of the jargon, spares us the psycho-babble, and instead provides practical pedagogy guidelines for us teachers on how to harness the potential cognition of our students.I won't give them away, but as Willingham says himself, most of his conclusions and guidelines are more or less common knowledge, but the beauty of the book is in the way he is able to communicate it -- he does so in a very straightforward manner with good use of visuals. He uses good examples to illustrate his points.Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone studying educational psychology, or anyone in the K-12 teaching field.
yapete on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Excellent introduction to implications of cognitive science for teaching at all levels. Although I teach at the university level, I found this book extremely useful. Does away with many educational fads that are still out there, and shows that cognitive science supports what your grandmother always told you: If you want to be good at something, practice, practice, practice. Gives sound and useful advice how we can get our students to do just that.
MicheleKingery on LibraryThing 7 months ago
In a pleasant tone, with lots of friendly examples and anecdotes, Daniel T. Willingham gets to the root of a teaching dilemma: how to convey information in a way that is meaningful to the student.According to Willingham, thinking is "slow, effortful and uncertain." Apparently that explains why we often avoid doing it. And kids avoid doing it even more.If we're not thinking, then what are we doing?We're relying on memory to guide us through even the simplest tasks. It's what we mean when we say we're on "autopilot". Willingham uses the example of making spaghetti to illustrate his point: we don't peruse recipes and calculate nutrition stats, we just make spaghetti. The way we always do. Which might be boiling noodles and opening a jar of Ragu. To ponder, ruminate, calculate and cogitate on everything, all the time, would simply be too exhausting.The good news is that we're naturally curious. The bad news is that curiosity has a short lifespan. Make a solution too difficult and we become frustrated. Make it too easy and we become bored.What's a teacher to do?Willingham offers suggestions like "begin with the end in mind" when planning lessons (what do you want your students to know?), pick your "puzzles" carefully (showy demos make classroom magic, but will the student remember or care about underlying principles?), change it up (short attention spans love it) and take notes (not the students, you, on what worked and what didn't).Another premise is that "students come to understand new ideas by relating them to old ideas. If their knowledge is shallow, the process stops there." (p.94). In a lecture Willingham recently gave, he suggested that lots of shallow knowledge isn't necessarily bad. One needs to know a little about a lot of things to read the Wall Street Journal or NY Times, for example. (Lord knows, I wouldn't have passed the SAT without "Trivial Pursuit" and the card game "Masterpiece"!!)Perhaps my favorite Willingham nugget is the one that offers the most hope: "Intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work."(p. 211). In other words, effort does make a difference.How, teachers might ask, can I get my students to work? Willigham suggests that teachers make thoughtful decisions about what students need and then offer them opportunities for practice. Often.
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Very helpful book for anyone thar has a child or works with children