Why Don't Students Like School?

  • by Daniel T. Willingham
  • Narrated by Paul Costanzo
  • 6 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Kids are naturally curious, but when it comes to school, it seems like their minds are turned off. Why is it that they can remember the smallest details from their favorite television programs, yet miss the most obvious questions on their history test? Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham has focused his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning and has a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by classroom teachers. This book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn - revealing the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.
In this breakthrough book, Willingham has distilled his knowledge of cognitive science into a set of nine principles that are easy to understand and have clear applications for the classroom. Some examples of his surprising findings are:


"Learning styles" don't exist. The processes by which different children think and learn are more similar than different.
Intelligence is malleable. Intelligence contributes to school performance and children do differ, but intelligence can be increased through sustained hard work.
You cannot develop "thinking skills" in the absence of facts. We encourage students to think critically, not just memorize facts. However, thinking skills depend on factual knowledge for their operation.
Why Don't Students Like School is a basic primer for every teacher who wants to know how their brains and their students' brains work and how that knowledge can help them hone their teaching skills.

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What the Critics Say

"Corporate trainers, marketers and, not least, parents - anyone who cares about how we learn - should find his book valuable reading." (The Wall Street Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Informative Stimulating

If you are a teacher seeking to engage students or a parent with a child in school, Why Don’t Students Like School? is a very helpful book. It is widely applicable to students in K-12 or in college. A cognitive scientist, Dan Willingham brings his discipline and its insights to this very needy area. He lays out the fact that before students can be taught to think critically, they must have mastered basic information. Essentially, Willingham posits that the more students commit details to long-term memory, the better able they will be prepared to use their short-term memory and frontal lobe to deal with more pressing problems. Along the way he debunks popular concepts such as the “learning styles” line of thinking (auditory, visual, kinesthetic…) which has little support in the empirical literature. This is not an education bashing book, but the work of an individual genuinely interested in how we best teach students and engage them in thoughtful activity on a day-to-day basis. You may not like the book, but Willingham is persuasive. The reading of Paul Costanzo is excellent.
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- Lynn

a manual for working with student brains

I would buy for all my new teachers and parents who say "i just don't understand why he/she is like this". Lots of insight to how the brain works and why students do what they do. A good summary of the latest research and how to use it to help get better engagement in the classroom.
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- Deidre

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-12-2011
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio