Best Practice

The process of learning: Cheats prosper (part 6)

Our series on how students learn continues. Matt Bromley is looking at the second of his three secrets to boosting long-term memory – how we can help pupils to access their long-term memories quickly by ‘cheating’ their working memories

Last time I argued that, if we want our pupils to learn anything (by which I mean, encode information in their long-term memories), then we need to engage their active attention and get them thinking hard. We need to give them work to do that’s challenging but achievable, because if the work’s too easy pupils will complete it through habit, but if the work’s too hard pupils will be unable to complete it. In both cases, learning will fail.

But to help pupils think hard, we need to teach them how to cheat the limited space in their working memory in order to avoid cognitive overload. In other words, we need them to think hard but efficiently.

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