Skip to main content

How People Learn - Chapter 3

Why do they teach students reading, writing, and mathematics before they teach them how to eat? Think about that as I go through a review of this chapter to lead to my point. Learning in schools involves the core concept of abstracting knowledge to make it transferrable to other scenarios, mainly, as the chapter concludes, to everyday life. Transfer is the process through which you learn something bigger than mathematics or something bigger than that physics problem. Some would argue it is the overall increase in understanding. In order to achieve this transfer, one must have the passion and desire to do these things. This is where we should start most of teaching, in motivation. The study and understanding of how to create motivation in students is particularly, what, to me, makes a great lecture. Learning requires an in depth understanding of the representation of knowledge in the human brain. This understanding will allow you to make better connections with your students, and to relate the knowledge to their everyday life. However, it is obvious that these connections and the idea of transfer is inherently not visible and incredibly difficult to test. These studies require long term studies of the development of a student’s knowledge and where his inherent understanding of the world comes from. As the chapter illustrates, it is not a binary decision, of teaching and then testing for transfer, it is the inherent process of understanding and the creation of the connections in our brain over time that allows for this fabled transfer to occur. This led me to think of first encounters with knowledge, and the age-old question of nature vs nurture. I thought, if knowledge is related on previous knowledge, then what is the first piece of knowledge we get, are we born with it, and if not, is it significant to our development? I stepped back from those thoughts and decided it wasn’t worth it. On Page 56 it is stated that chess masters require up to 100,000 hours of practice to become an expert. There must be something wrong with their sourcing because that is an order of magnitude off, as it would require approximately 11 years nonstop, or 22 years, if you were playing chess 12 hours a day. However, if we stick to the notion of the 10,000 rule to become an expert, something interesting is illustrated. If I eat 2 hours a day, by the time everyone hits puberty their approaching their PhD in ‘gobble gobble’, and yet, we don’t have a clue what we swallow. The cottage cheese problem in Box 3.10 taught me how to calculate portions, but should I really be eating 3/4ths of 2/3rd of a cup of just cottage cheese? That stated, let me get back to the first thought that I put on your mind as you began reading this.

Obesity is a known problem in the United States. More specifically, Georgia has incredibly high childhood obesity rates, ranking at approximately 40% of 3rd graders being overweight and obese (Georgia Department of Public Health, 2010). Campaigns such as Strong4Life (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, 2011) tackle obesity with graphic and blunt advertisements in attempts to shock their audience to acknowledge the problem. They often fail by belittling children who are obese, and simply hurting other people’s feelings. Obesity isn’t an issue because we should blame on the fast food industry alone, but rather on the fact that we never think before we eat because we were never taught how to do so. If my body had to read three times a day, I would go through books like crazy, but I’d probably only look at the pictures. The text inside it would be, like hmm, all the preservatives they put in a fast food meal. If you don’t teach me about it, don't blame me for not knowing how to do it. Now, as I walked back to my laboratory to write this, I ran into a couple, of which I knew the guy. I talked to both of them about what was on my mind, to which they responded with an interesting thought, ‘I got taught nutrition in Middle School’. A little glimmer of hope rang inside me, but quickly faded away as I thought, that’s, on average, a little over a decade after children have started eating. Everyone eats. Before I need to read and write, and learn complex algorithms in my research laboratory, I eat. I’ve done it every day of my life, and I do not plan on stopping. The point of abstract knowledge is taken a little too far when it comes to nutrition. When a student takes health, or nutrition, the facts they learn are facts. Schools need to teach eating as if it was an apprenticeship. Every lunch break. Let’s take a field trip to the grocery store, and show you which foods contain things that are good for you. When people criticize obesity, many stances are taken. Some people are on the soft side and side with letting the obese be, because they are happy. Others go straight to labeling it a disease that needs to be treated. My point of view stands nowhere in between. I personally abide by the motto, ‘Live and let live’, everyone should have the right to do whatever they want, but they deserve the right to be educated to make these decisions with knowledge, and not with hunger. However, the education system seems to be focused on tangible statistics and exam passing, and eating habits are found in the small excerpt of your childhood when they made you record what you ate for that one week in Health and then gave you an A for completion, when you deserved an F for eating before thinking.

To conclude, telling someone they’re incompetent won’t help them learn, in the same way that telling someone they are obese won’t help them lose weight. Teach them how to do better and they will make the informed decision, and spread the word.

Works Cited

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. (2011). Stop Childhood Obesity. Retrieved 1 26, 2012, from Strong For Life:

Georgia Department of Public Health. (2010). Obesity in Children and Youth. Retrieved 1 25, 2012, from


Popular posts from this blog

Food: Volume 2

The Food Guide: Volume 2 August marked the start of my 10th year in Atlanta, Georgia. My first 3-4 years were arguably a waste in the context of visiting places (still remember being blown away when I first ventured into Decatur), but I wanted to revisit my Food Guide now that I have frequented many locations around Atlanta and found the pockets that I really love. Before I had structured the guide from cheap to expensive, but this time I will break it down by neighborhoods, since I think that better represents Atlanta. Disclaimer, I also love beer so some of these may be bias to the beer world. I explicitly won't be mentioning breweries or bars because this would just get insanely long, but hit up Hop City, and check out every brewery in town. I particularly have been loving the atmosphere at Atlanta Brewing Co. so go check them out!
Knight Park, Blandtown, Home Park, Howell Mill from 17th to Northside: Coffee:Firelight Coffee Roasters: Tucked away from the madness and buried in…

Dazed and confused.

I kind of came to the conclusion that I needed to write this when I realized that I had gotten a little lost at work. I can go a little crazy with the number of things I try to do at any given time and well, that kind of work can easily overwhelm me. However, over the past few days I have realized and resparked my desire and love for the process.

It may sound a bit abstract but its a common theme among those who find themselves fortunate enough to enjoy every minute of every day of work. You see, a lot of life is a matter of perspective. A quick glimpse into consumer behavior and the study of a capitalistic society will tell you that people are very predictable and marketable beings.

A few years ago Matthew McConaughey gave a fantastic talk to the University of Houston, where he stated the following: "See, joy is always in process, under construction — it’s in the constant approach, alive and well —in the doing of what we are fashioned to do… and enjoying doing it." and the…

My Barcelona Guide

Long overdue, but having been to Barcelona a number of times, I have been wanting to write some of the secret parts of the city that I encountered, and that are worth seeing. It's worth citing that a lot of the restaurants were originally gotten from an amazing list of restaurants my doctoral advisor shared with me, and that a lot of the places I love going to were first shown to me by our program director, who knows Barcelona better than anybody I know.

Additional note: Barcelona runs on a different time schedule than other countries. Dinner at 9-10pm is very common, and people start going out around midnight (to bars). Clubs start around 2am and go until about 6am, so keep that in mind as you enjoy the city. They also have afternoon naps (siestas), so in the early afternoon, a lot of things may be closed. The summer is usually pretty packed regardless because its booming with tourists. I generally do not like crowded toursit-filled areas, but you have to experience them once. You…