What Makes You Stupid

Jonah Lehrer posed this math question on the New Yorker: A baseball and a bat cost one dollar and ten cents. The price of the bat is one dollar more than that of the ball. How much is the ball? If your answer is ten cents, then you are carelessly making shortcuts in your head. The ball is five cents and the bat costs a dollar more, one dollar and five cents. We often associate quickness with intelligence especially in math. It is true that it helps if we can answer questions like what is three times seven in a flash. But when evaluation is necessary, we must pause and think.

There are four beliefs that make us stupid according to Stephen Chew of Samford University.

Above copied from
Stephen Chew, How to Get the Most Out of Studying

The above captured image may look just like a meme that we often see on social media. What it says, however, comes from evidence-based research. Chew summarizes some of the misconceptions we have regarding how we learn in a chapter in Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum (2014)
Above copied from
Stephen L. Chew (2014).
Helping Students to Get the Most Out of Studying. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php

Learning takes both time and effort. Comprehension is only possible with thoughtful and careful reading. Learning requires that we connect new information with what we know. We need to relate concepts with each other. This is what real knowledge is, not a basket of isolated facts. Yes, there is talent, but we can only learn if we can persevere through challenges. Lastly, there is no such thing as multi-tasking, we can only switch between tasks which leads to inattention and poorer performance.

Chew also provides suggestions to help us study more effectively. He summarizes these in a set of ten principles:

Above copied from
Stephen Chew, How to Get the Most Out of Studying
And yes, the above is not just a meme. The above principles are backed by research.


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