Brain Rules and Other Good Ideas

Happy Monday, everyone :)

Not much is happening in the world of university right now. But in preparation for some of my classes, I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. I recently picked up a book called Brain Rules by John Medina. I hadn’t researched it before hand and it was somewhat impulsive, but I quickly flipped through the table of contents and it looked like something I would really enjoy.

I know I’ve said it before, but I doubt I’ll say it much more after this: I have found one of the greatest books ever written … on psychology that is. I can almost guarantee this book has significantly improved how I’ll function at university and in my future career.

Medina shares with his readers the twelve “Brain Rules” (to the right) that he believes are the keys to thriving in our schools and businesses. Medina states in the intro that “for a study to appear in this book, … the supporting research for each of my points must first be published in a peer-reviewed journal and then successfully replicated. Many of the studies have been replicated dozens of times.” The scientists he sources are all at the very top of their field. If you commonly read books in the psychology section, you will recognize quite a few names.

The topics Medina discussed cover most of the areas of how we learn, remember and forget, as well as how we can function at our highest in school or at work. His twelve different topics are very distinct, but he makes it very clear how they all connect to each other throughout the entire book.

I have never read a book so utterly readable and easy to understand, despite the presence of complex and would-be confusing topics. Because Medina has made it his mission to understand how people learn and retain information, he has designed the entire book so that you will remember everything you’ve learned about learning. He’s witty, relatable, and not at all dry (not even when we got to the genes and chromosomes of the gender chapter).

Each chapter ends with Medina’s “ideas”. That is, the best possible ways to put all this fantastic research by top scientists to use in our schools and businesses. Although some of his ideas seem quite drastic, it’s very easy to see how it could make learning and working easier, more enjoyable, and more rewarding than it currently is. His final chapter, ‘exploration,’ has to do with the very natural curiosity of humans. One of his final thoughts in the book was this:

My two-year-old son Noah and I were walking down the street on our way to preschool when he suddenly noticed a shiny pebble embedded in the concrete. Stopping mid-stride, the little guy considered it for a second, found it thoroughly delightful and let out a laugh. He spied a small plant an inch farther, a weed valiantly struggling through a crack in the asphalt. He touched it gently, then laughed again. Noah noticed beyond it a platoon of ants marching in single file, which he bent down to examine closely. They were carrying a dead bug, and Noah clapped his hands in wonder. There were dust particles, a rusted screw, a shiny spot of oil…. I tried to get him to move along, having the audacity to act like an adult with a schedule. He was having none of it. And I stopped, watching my little teacher, wondering how long it had been since I had taken 15 minutes to walk 20 feet.

In practice with how the brain learns, Medina has also created a short 2:00-5:00 minute video to go with each chapter, in order to help solidify what you’ve learned in the book. Here’s the video for the introduction. I hope I’ve sparked an interest in you to go out and buy your own copy of this book. No matter where your interests lie, I can promise you improvement in your school or work life if you read and apply Medina’s 12 brain rules.

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