Chapter 2. Old Ways, New Learning Styles: Meet Laura, Griselda, and Your Brain

You may have been struck by how different your usual learning approach is from what the data suggests about best practices. We were all given advice on how to learn from authorities such as history professors (“Defer sleep now, the final is tomorrow!”) or through the osmosis of observation. The differences in today’s techniques are interesting and make learning seem a lot more “natural,” if you will. To help you see the rather stark difference between how many of us have approached learning and what the new data suggests we do, I have cooked up two personas, which I will outline next. After that, we’ll learn some important information from our brain about its mysterious ways.

Griselda and Laura, a Study in Contrasts

Let’s consider the two characters in Table 2-1, one (Griselda) representing what many of us thought was the best way to learn, the other (Laura) contrasting that idea with the latest data, which we covered in Chapter 1.

Table 2-1. Griselda the Grinder versus Laura the Lazy
Griselda the Grinder Laura the Lazy
Starts at the beginning of the book and takes lots of notes, underlines Moves from details to the big picture and then back (focused, diffuse thinking)
Studies for hours at a stretch Takes lots of breaks; naps after studying
Defers sleep to get in more study Goofs off, makes unusual associations
Focuses on one thing at a time until she feels she has mastered it Mixes ...

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