Children are naturally curious when it comes to their surroundings and cognitive abilities. But when it comes to school, it seems the curiosity get turned off and they suddenly lose interest. Have we ever wondered why is it that they are able to remember the tiniest details from their favourite television programmes and movies, yet they seem to miss the most obvious questions on their English test? ‘Why Don’t Students Like School’, by Dan Willingham, might be able to answer some of our questions when it comes to child psychology.
Dan Willingham has put to work his research on the cognitive and psychological foundations of learning and carries a profound understanding of the daily challenges faced by teachers in their classrooms. This book has helped teachers all around the world improve their pedagogical practices by going into detail on how their students think and process learning – proving how story, memory, routine, emotion and context are extremely important in creating knowledge and long-term learning experiences, or the best growth of the student.
In this book, Willingham has divided his knowledge of cognitive science into a set of nine different principles that are easy to understand and have clear practical applications for the classroom. Some of the examples of his surprising findings are:
There are no universal ‘learning styles’ for children. The way every child thinks and processes learning is more similar than it is more different.
Intelligence is highly flexible in children. It is relatively easy to influence than in adults. Intelligence is the main factor when it comes to their school performance and it differs. But intelligence can be boosted through continuous hard work.
It is impossible for a child to develop ‘thinking skills’ without the proper facts required for it. Teachers encourage students to think critically instead of just simply memorizing facts. However, thinking skills largely depend on real-time factual knowledge in order for them to operate smoothly.
This is a basic and a must-read book for every teacher who is curious to know how their brains and their students’ psychology work and how that knowledge can help them hone their teaching skills for their students’ better development.
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine November 2020 edition.