Broadening Your Passions – Learning How To Learn for Youth by ASU #3

Barbara: Here’s me when I was ten-years-old. I loved animals, knitting, and weaving. I hated math. In fact, I failed math all through my childhood. So you might be surprised to learn that today,
I’m a professor of engineering! How did that happen? Greg: Before we find out, let’s take a look
at the big picture. Of all the different careers that people can
pursue, why are those involving math and science sometimes more challenging? Part of the reason is the ideas are more abstract. Let’s take a cow, for example, out standing
in a field. If you have the word cow, you can point right
to a cow to learn what that word means. But for mathematical ideas, there’s often
nothing similar you can point to. There are no plus signs standing out in a
field so that you can point and instantly know what the plus symbol stands for. Multiplication or division or other types
of mathematical or scientific symbols aren’t instantly understandable, either. All of these terms are also abstract. Just like everything else you’re learning,
it’s really important to practice the ideas and concepts you’re learning in math and science. Practice helps make the changes in your brain
last longer—it can even make abstract ideas become as natural as real things. Terry: Not only is practice important for
learning, how you practice can make a big difference in how well you will remember a
new concept. Don’t cram your practice the day before a
big test. You will forget most of it after the test. But if you review the concept at spaced intervals,
even if briefly, you will remember the concept for a long time. This works for any concept, whether it is
a vocabulary word, an event in history or a problem in math. Back to Barbara. Barbara: Practice is right. I enlisted in the army right after of high
school to learn the Russian language at the US Defense Language Institute. That’s me at age 18, looking very nervous
while I’m throwing a hand grenade. If you knew how clumsy I actually am, you’d
know why I look so nervous. It took some practice! I only started to study math and science when
I was 26-years-old, after I got out of the military. At first, it was really hard for me. There were all these quick thinkers in my
classes who seemed to get everything a lot easier and faster than I did. In between semesters, I would go out and work
as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers. That’s me working on a boat near the North
Pole. Then I would come back to school and learn
keep learning. As I gained technical knowledge, new doors
started opening up for me. I ended up working as a radio operator at
the South Pole Station in Antarctica. That’s where I met my husband Philip. I always says I had to go the end of the Earth
to meet that man! (Incidentally, he’s the man behind the camera
in filming these videos!) Now, I wasn’t natural in math and science. Not at all. The way I succeeded was to gradually begin
to figure out some insights about how my brain worked. That’s what’s outlined in the book Learning
How to Learn, which I wrote with Terry Sejnowski and educator Alistair McConville. It’s the basis for this course! We’ll learn more about how to help your
brain learn in the next video. And we’re going to learn about a boy in
trouble. Big trouble! Barbara: I’m Barbara Oakley
Greg: I’m Greg Hammons Terry: and I’m Terry Sejnowski
Barbara: we, and Arizona State University, wish you happy learning!

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