It had been thought that learning was a matter of intelligence or diligence, that differences in achievement were due to "ability" or "effort."
The new science of learning suggests that learning power can be enormously increased. It shows that the brain will deliver mastery of complex environments without supervision by the conscious, rational mind. Indeed, thinking too hard can get in the way of practical learning. In the author's best-selling Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, he described the new skills of learning and focused on the three "slow" processes of intuition, contemplation and creativity. In Wise-Up, he looks at the full mental processes of learning-not only the "slow" ones-and teaches how to acquire, hone, and expand those qualities and skills.
Expanding on his previous books (Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind; etc.), which argue that conventional education vastly overemphasizes rational, memory-based ways of learning and knowing to the detriment of other modes, British psychologist and educator Claxton urges parents, teachers and students of all ages to concentrate on precisely those neglected channels. He advocates direct immersion, which lets us pick up useful patterns by osmosis; intuition or "soft thinking," which can prompt artistic, scientific and practical creativity; and imagination, including visualization, fantasy and play--all useful tools for drawing on the brain's various pockets of expertise, according to Claxton. Higher education in the U.S. and U.K. is stagnating, he charges, as a generation of conformist students shun deep inquiry for fear of upsetting their teachers. To help individuals, educators and businesses "wise up," he offers examples of primary schools and colleges around the world that are using nontraditional educational approaches, and of companies that are creating a workplace environment conducive to on-the-job learning. Along the way, he takes potshots at multiple-intelligence theorist Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, linguist Noam Chomsky, computer tycoon Bill Gates and others with whose ideas he disagrees. Buttressed by recent research in cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence and neuroscience, Claxton offers a smorgasbord of food for thought that will appeal to teachers, parents, creative types and managers.