How to Learn – a one day course for school teachers and leaders

A one day course for school teachers and leaders 


Learning is multifaceted. Some forms of learning, like learning to ride a bike for instance, are immediate and observable. But other forms of learning – including learning complex curriculum content in an academic setting – are neither of these things. The immediate demonstration of knowledge, understanding or skill can be a mere performance, mimicry rather than mastery, which is a poor proxy for learning.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with mimicry if it helps a pupil pass a test and get a qualification, but assuming we want to do more than “teach to the test”, and assuming we regard education as something meaningful and life-long, a way of becoming an engaged and active citizen, and an inquisitive, cultured adult, then surely we must aim to move beyond mimicry and towards mastery?

We must, therefore, teach in such a way as to ensure our pupils not only acquire new knowledge, understanding and skills but can apply them at a later time and in a range of different contexts.

The process by which we achieve this long-term, transferable learning involves an interaction between our pupils’ sensory memories and their long-term memories. The sensory memory is made up of: what pupils see (their iconic memory), what they hear (echoic memory), and what they touch (haptic memory). Pupils’ long-term memory is where information is stored and from which it can later be recalled when needed, but they cannot directly access the information stored in their long-term memories. As such, the interaction between their sensory memories and their long-term memories, which is the heart of deep learning, occurs in their working memories – the only place where they can think and do.

In order to improve the learning process so that our pupils are afforded the best opportunities to learn, teachers should follows three steps:4206656A-7D0C-490E-8041-F6D3F374BECF

1. Create a positive learning environment in order to stimulate sensory memory.

2. Make pupils think hard but efficiently in order to gain the attention of – but cheat – working memory.

3. Plan for deliberate practice in order to improve storage in, and retrieval from, long-term memory.

This new one-day course explains how to do just that. It combines the latest theories from the field of cognitive science with practical advice – informed by classroom experience – for lesson planning and delivery.

How to Learn is running as an open course in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in the spring term of 2018. It can also be delivered in your school. 

To find out more and to book your place, contact us

Find out more about training and development services.

Read Matt’s 10-part series on ‘the learning process’ for SecEd Magazine…

…or download the full series as a PDF booklet