I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

Filtering by Tag: CRAMMING

Creative Teaching, Teaching Creativity, And A Forbidden Cramming Technique

Creative Teaching and Teaching Creativity + Cramming

Witaj przyjacielu!

That means Welcome friend! in Polish. If you want to pronounce the first word: Witaj correctly the best way to do it is to think of the letter V and a neck-tie. So, next time you see a Polish friend you can impress them by greeting them with a V-tie followed by their name. To remember this word and it's pronunciation better just close your eyes and imagine a V-shaped necktie. Say it a couple of times. Got it?

If you made any kind of effort I bet you do. And, if you actually imagined the V-shaped necktie you are likely to recall the word quite easily next time you see a Polish person. It's because you used a few strategies that are not common practice in life or school.

A creative teacher might break down the word into V and tie the way I did. But how many teachers tell you to consciously use your imagination each time you try to remember something? How many understand how the brain learns and intentionally leverage that knowledge in the classroom to help their students learn better? How many observe their learners for who they are, not who they want to mold them into, and teach strategies that are unique, counterintuitive, but effective?

I don't know about your past teachers, but this is not who my teachers in Poland were. You see, communist Poland of my youth was a place where creativity was crushed and compliance compulsory. But this approach did quite the opposite. While many people appeared to comply with the demands of the totalitarian iron curtain regime at school or work they resisted them and everything the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) stood for in their minds and homes.

I remember the conversations my parents, uncles, aunts, friends etc. were having at the time. They were mostly about ways to circumvent the censorships, bans, and prohibitions. The artistic community, with the writers and the moviemakers leading the effort, was always able to create works that subliminally and cleverly ridiculed the system and its leaders. What happened was... the lack of freedom led to the increased craving for and the very expression of free will and freedom of thought.

And that's precisely the point! Tell a human she can't do something and she will prove you wrong. Forbid him and he might nod in silence, but as he's walking away his head begins to fill with ideas. Then their actions counteract your teachings. 

This was the communist Poland of the 80s and before, but I am reminded of it often in conversations with students and colleagues. Creativity is crushed in American schools. Often quite unconsciously and unintentionally teachers crush student creativity.

Learning is prescribed all the while it should be created. Formal schooling is necessary. Compliance is compulsory but should be voluntary. We even teach them to control their breathing so they can hold it together and comply better...

But humans are hardwired for addictive behavior. Phone, Snapchat, YouTube, gaming, coffee, candy, forbidden things, YES I WANT MORE the brain screams. 

Except that teachers the EXPERTS know better, right?

And yet the best way to learn is to teach it to yourself. Wanna learn how to fix cars? Pop the hood and fix the car. Maybe you'll find a better way to do it than what they showed on YouTube. Wanna learn how to cook? Find a recipe on Pinterest, buy the ingredients, and cook that chicken dinner! And don't forget to add your own flavor because you thought that it might taste better if you add a pinch of chili powder and a tablespoon of honey.

But this is not how we teach it. The formula in the book is always the same, so Learn it the right way or else you fail! we say.


How about we teach students how to cram better? C'mon. Step over to the dark side for this one! I'll be your hooded and cloaked guide and we'll practice the dark arts in secrecy so no one knows we are teaching kids things the system says are W R O N G. 

What say you? 

We'll even tell them that others don't want us to teach this stuff. This way they'll learn it really well.


So here's my...

Last Resort Cramming Technique

It is an excerpt from my latest project, an upcoming all-in-one book, guide, and workbook Crush School Notebook: 12 Weeks To Better Learning

Crush School Last Resort Cram Tactic

The crazy thing about the strategy above is that it uses spaced repetition all the while you're cramming. It's still a far cry from spacing out studies over several days or weeks, but beats studying just once on the night before a test.

Use it or don't - the choice is yours. I'm just throwing it out there to see what you think.

Peace. Love. Thanks.


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