Title: Straight A’s Are Not Enough
Author: Judy Fishel
Publisher: Flying Heron Books
Why do 5000 girls a year not get credit for AP Calculus? How do our mindsets affect our learning? Can we change our own brains, get smarter, or improve our willpower? What happens in your brain when you concentrate on learning? What is the major factor that divides freshmen who do well and those who struggle? These and other intriguing questions are answered in this book. Memorable stories, vivid metaphors, simple images and even a few comic strips reveal ways you can learn most effectively. Many straight A students memorize facts for exams but soon forget nearly everything. What a waste of your time and money! Wouldn’t you rather take charge of your own learning and get a great education? Straight A’s Are Not Enough is definitely not another book on how to make straight A’s. Students who use these powerful strategies will enjoy learning, get a great education, and learn skills employers want most. They can also make straight A’s.
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Monkeys with Puzzles and What They Teach Us about Learning
Children are often incredibly excited about learning. They know all about dinosaurs or sports, or Curious George. They eagerly anticipate learning to read in first grade. Then something terrible happens and they lose that wonderful delight in learning. To understand this, you must know about the monkeys.
In 1949, a researcher wanted to teach monkeys to solve puzzles. He put puzzles in their cages so the monkeys would get used to them. Daniel Pink in his book Drive(2009) quotes the researcher, Harry Harlow. “The monkeys began playing with the puzzles with focus, determination, and what looked like enjoyment.” Later, however, when rewarded with raisins, the monkeys lost interest. Harlow suggested their motivation was intrinsic; they solved puzzles for pleasure, rather than for rewards.
Children start school filled with excitement but soon learn that teachers and parents care more about grades than learning. As they are pushed to make better grades and forced to take test after test, many lose their joy of learning forever. What a terrible thing to do to our children. We learn more when intrinsically motivated rather than working for rewards.
Like the children, college students, again working for rewards, tend to believe students with the best grades get the best jobs. Employers, however, know that many Straight A students never got a good education. They never learned skills employers want most.
Students should set goals and focus, not on what they’ll be tested on, but on what they find exciting or important for reaching those goals. They must stop memorizing what they are told and begin thinking deeply about what they hear and read. They should take charge of getting the kind of education they want and need.
Judy Fishel was a seventh grader when she first asked the question why she worked so hard, made good grades, but learned so little. She struggled with this question through high school, college and grad schools, and for years as an award-winner teacher. Here she shares her discoveries and insights with you.
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