Why Don't Students Like School by Daniel T. Willingham: Article Analysis

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Grace Kaucic
ED 201
Dr. Shang
Cognitive Psychology Paper

Why Don’t Students Like School by Daniel T. Willingham discusses a very intriguing dilemma that many teachers face today. The dilemma is being unable to find the proper balance between teaching students the information they need to know to be successful and inspiring them to enjoy school and the learning process. Willingham addressed the various aspects that go into making the teaching process successful. He lists nine principles fundamental to the education of the mind in his introduction, and these principles set the stage for how to ultimately develop into the best possible teacher.

The first principle he addresses in Chapter 1 is, “People are naturally curious, but we are naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking.” According to Willingham, people avoid thinking for three main reasons: it is slow, effortful, and uncertain. Compared to other functions of the brain such as sight and touch which are quick and reliable, the process of thinking cannot be depended on completely. Next, in Chapter 2, he proposes that “factual knowledge must precede skill.” He goes on to state, “The implication is that facts must be taught, ideally in the context of skills, and ideally beginning in preschool and even before” (Willingham 26). This entails that all factual information must be accompanied by some form of context that the student is able to recognize from past experiences and education. Furthermore, factual information is vital to reading comprehension.

Chapter 3 introduces the principle, “Memory is the residue of thought.” Perhaps the best phrase that really summarizes the chapter is “Whatever you think about, that’s what you remember” (Willingham 61). For teachers, this demands discovering creative ways to make students think about important concepts and how they relate to everyday life, in order for them to remain in the students’ memories for longer...
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