5 books that will make you a better learner

“I think you should read everything you can. You need to fill your mind with various competing thoughts and decide which make sense. “

Warren Buffett

Maybe not everyone has as much time to read as Buffett does. I quite envy him on this. Since in 2016 there were over 134,000,00 books out there, we have to choose wisely where we invest out time.

Since I love learning, often you’ll find me reading something about learning theories, learning methods, performance and so on.

If you love learning too, I made a list of 5 books about the topic. They are either recommended, followed, used or read by people I trust and made me a better learner.


Self-Directed Learning

“We are talking about a basic human competence-the ability to learn on one’s own-that has suddenly become a prerequisite for living in this new world.”

Malcolm Knowles

Malcolm Knowles is well known for his learning theories. One of them was about Self-Directed Learning.

His book covers the learning process both for teachers and for learners. He goes through why is important to become a Self-Directed Learner, how to identify learning needs, measure readiness for learning, and why and how to build learning contracts.

Weather you’re a teacher looking to improve your methods, or a learner willing to grow healthy learning habits, I strongly recommend Self-Directed Learning.


Peak

“Today deliberate practice remains the gold standard for anyone in any field who wishes to take advantage of the gift of adaptability in order to build new skills.”

Anders Ericsson

“Peak” destroys myths as talent. Makes the difference between purposeful practice and other types of practices we engage in. He explains what deliberate practice is and it’s characteristics. These are the core of the book:

Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals.

Purposeful practice is focused.

Purposeful practice involves feedback.

Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone.

Along the way, he gives examples on how London taxi drivers, master chess players, athletes and musicians make use of these characteristics and how it affects their performance.


Make it stick

“This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer.”

Peter C. Brown

“Make it stick” had a real impact on me due to it’s power to destroy the beliefs I had about learning methods.

After leaving school, I always thought tests are a lousy way to measure my knowledge. Mostly because of the pressure that comes with them.

Guess what? Research has proven tests help you build long-term memory. After reading and re-reading the first chapter of the book, “To learn, retrieve”, I had a change of hearts.

This book shows you practical ways to build long term memory such as spaced repetition, retrieval, varied practice and shows you how to avoid illusions of knowing.


Grit

“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”

Angela Duckworth

One of the questions this book answers is how gritty are you. You’ll take a test, answering some questions on a scale from 1 to 5. Depending on the results, you’ll be filled with joy or cry in a pillow, deciding next day you’ll be more passionate and you won’t step back from challenges any time soon!

Angela Duckworth researched as Anders Ericsson did, what makes the greatest, great.

She came up with the formula Passion + Perseverance = Grit, what takes you through obstacles and makes you succeed. Angela Duckworth studied those who attended West Point Military Academy, and started determining who will last until the end based on her scale. She used it while she was a teacher not only to assess the grit level, but also in helping kids grow it.


The art of learning

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.”

Josh Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin is an American chess player. Martial Arts competitor. And author.

He did everything by developing an amazing discipline and solid learning habits.

I’ll share with you some of my learning from this book. Internalising fundamentals as building blocks makes complex knowledge more achievable. Be present. Be curious, like a child. Push yourself. Love the challenge.

It’s a nice autobiography of an amazing learner, but not all lessons are right in front of you, so be present when you read it.


Now, here are just 5 of the strongly recommended books on learning. I’ll be back with more in-depth reviews of each and other titles to add to the collection. Until then, if you have more on the subject, please do share.

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