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10 Secrets To Learning Anything

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
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Remember the story of Icarus?

Here's my take...

Icarus died, because his father Daedalus was a bad teacher. The youngster flew too close to the sun, causing the wax binding his wings to melt and his body experience terminal velocity before it hit the sea.

But his father warned him! you may be thinking. He sure did, but the problem is that Daedalus did not teach his boy the secret methods to understanding the power he possessed. Without the understanding, Icarus did not learn. He did not learn, so he perished.

The legend of Icarus reminds me of education today. Fortunately, most of our students don't perish as a result of it. Unfortunately, many fall victim to miseducation. This is what Sir Ken Robinson suggests when describing a shortage of skills and abilities in the workforce needed to fill today's industry needs. To combat this, he emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning, which, I conceive, requires knowing how to process information effectively to understand, learn, and apply it in new ways.

Employers are complaining that academic programmes from schools to universities simply don’t teach what people now need to know and be able to do. They want people who can think intuitively, who are imaginative and innovative, who can communicate well, work in teams and are flexible, adaptable and self-confident. The traditional academic curriculum is simply not designed to produce such people.


Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative by Ken Robinson

Sadly, the quote above is from 2001 and is still very true. Frustratingly, we know what to do about it, but we're not emphasizing it enough in education. Luckily, these secrets are simple and easily applicable. Most teachers have heard of most, if not all of them, but they remain hidden, because schools emphasize curricula not skills. But they exist and must be made available to all learners. So here are the 10 secrets to learning anything and everything. Don't keep them to yourself!



Icarus is dead. But this young promising man back then, could have been saved if he knew how to learn. Education today, can be saved if we teach students how to learn and acquire skills. Unfortunately, Icarus’ father only told him what he needed him to know. Daedalus did not help his son learn. He merely told Icarus what to do and what not to do. It sounds eerily familiar...

This, I'm afraid, is the curse of education today. There's too much focus on what, not enough on how. We push common core and curriculum, dragging our students through state standards and assessments. We jam pack class time with concepts and just tell our students how to learn them. As little time is left in class for practicing how to actually learn, students are often on their own trying to figure out how to learn what we ask them to learn. Few in education are calling for decreasing the amount of stuff we teach and increasing the amount of time we spend helping our students become better learners. And when it comes to governmental guidance of education, the lunatics are running the loony bin these days... But Betsy is not the problem.

We don't need her.

The truth comes with great responsibility, but if we think on it, we realize this has always been the case. It is up to us, the teachers and the administrators, to teach our students to fly and to stay aerial. We need to focus on teaching our students how to learn by spending class time on solving problems they care about, not feeding them a shitload of information and trying to squeeze in some standardized test practice every Friday.

I suppose teaching has become a secretive profession. We teach stuff, but hide the how by not being explicit about it. I teach high school and am convinced most students don't know how to learn effectively. Many get good grades, but if learning is about retention... Well, it's just not happening. Honestly, I'm not even convinced it needs to happen. What I am convinced of, is that each student who leaves our schools needs to have the skills necessary to succeed. They need to know how to understand and learn new information efficiently and effectively. Napoleon? Not so much...

Icarus couldn't be saved, because his father was a great innovator, but a bad teacher. It's time we choose the former and fix the latter.

You have the power to change the world. Use it often.


P.S. Please don't keep these secrets to yourself. Teach them! Teach one or two every day. Reiterate one or two every day. Allow your students to intentionally practice them every day. When you discover new ones, share them! If you need an aid, check out my Crush School Series (1 & 2) books here. They are currently on sale for $2.99 each on Kindle and less than $12 in paperback on Amazon.

P.P.S. I teach Science, engineering, and Learning How to Learn and other Success Skills using brain science. Check out my blog for more articles, visuals, and lessons you can use in your classroom, work, or home.

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Oskar is a Science, Engineering, and Learning How to Learn teacher and an author of the Crush School Book Series.

His professional interests are brain-based teaching and learning, flexible seating (#StarbucksMyRoom founder), social-emotional learning, social justice, and using technology to enhance learning.

He is also a fan of the Jedi order (and uses DA FORCE frequently), ninjas, and the superhero in all of us. He is on a Quest to Change the World because he can. We all can.

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Guest Thursday, 27 June 2019