Outsmart Your Brain

Outsmart Your Brain

A resource I use often when I am working with adolescents/young adults is “Outsmart your Brain” by Daniel Willingham. Teaching clients to understand the brain science behind learning is crucial. Not only do they need to understand the trajectory of executive function/frontal lobe development, it helps them to understand the natural brain response versus the most effective brain response.

Passive vs Active Participation

For example, when the majority of us enter a lecture we are of the mindset that we can be passive when, in fact, we should be considering ways in which to be active (ie: preview slides, map what we are processing in snips, consider professor cues). Active participation increases understanding and supports retention.

Another example is when preparing for tests, students use a tool like quizlet to memorize vocabulary often the night before a test. A better strategy would be to learn terms and work towards making connections between vocabulary and higher level concepts by creating practice test questions and/or discussion questions to process with classmates.

Students should do all of the above over time to enhance understanding and memory of information. Working smarter not harder is the mantra but if you do not know the default setting for your brain then it is hard to know how to get started.

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