Rick Winterstein

[Ed. note: I’ve been up in the mountains if you’re wondering why it’s been quiet here lately. Things will slowly crank up as we get back into August, when we can talk about ways to reach the kids with personalized comprehensible input in those first all-important weeks of the year. The week of July 26 will also be quiet as I will be at the Los Angeles iFLT Conference (http://www.iflt.org/conference) and don’t forget the National TPRS Conference in Chicago (http://www.rsvpbook.com/event.php?499165) next week]
Here is a much delayed blog entry from Rick – an expert in teaching Latin using comprehensible input:

“Please allow me to recommend a book which I read this week while serving jury duty: Why Don’t Students Like School, by Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist at UVA. He has a webpage with information about his book and career, plus interviews and other information: http://www.danielwillingham.com/.
“You might have several answers for his question, many perhaps based on personal experience from when you were in school , but the actual purpose of his book is given in the subtitle: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What it Means for your Classroom. It is a summary of the research on how people learn. Although you won’t find detailed examples of lesson plans, there is enough general information that you can use as a guideline when you are constructing lesson plans or reflecting on what’s gone well or hasn’t gone well in your teaching.
“One of the most striking things he says, and perhaps the one with the greatest potential to change teaching, is the fact that there is no evidence to support any of the various theories of ‘learning styles’ or ‘learning preferences.’ I’ve been hearing rumors of such things for the past couple of years, but he’s reviewed the studies and found that many models of ‘learning styles’ either have no research to back them up, or have been refuted by experiments.
“Here’s a video where he makes his argument: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk. As he puts it, good teaching is good teaching. The best reason, in my opinion, to vary presentation of a lesson isn’t so much to “appeal to the auditory learner, and the visual learner, and the kinesthetic learner,” but rather to maintain student interest — i.e. keep things from getting boring. The most important thing seems to be that students be actively engaged in their learning, and a necessary concomitant is that whatever they’re engaged in fixes their attention on the objective of the lesson. I’ve been reading a lot about physics education using this sort of ‘constructivist’ approach, and the evidence from that field really does support this sort of approach.
“The other really cool thing about his book is one chapter where he stresses the importance of ‘storytelling’ in learning. A lot of what Willingham says directly or indirectly supports what TPRS users have determined from careful practice and experience.”



1 thought on “Rick Winterstein”

  1. Rick,
    I would like to second your recommendation of this book! Rob Williams recommended it on the moreTPRS listserv not long ago, so I checked it out from the library, and it is a fantastic read! I am recommending it to my colleagues as well as my friends who homeschool their children. I am hoping that my principal might consider it for our book study this year.
    As you said, it is not so much an answer to “Why Don’t Students Like School?” as it is a summary of how people learn. The book clearly explains scientific research as it applies to education, minus the educational jargon. It is a truly refreshing summer read!

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