Chapter 1 — Learning is Misunderstood
Many people believe learning is better when it is easier, but certain kinds of difficulties that require more effort make it stronger and longer-lasting. Pilot Matt Brown lost an engine while flying through the night, and his ability to work himself out of a jam illustrates how the memorization of facts enables us to learn the concepts we need to solve unexpected problems. Practice in retrieving new material from memory is more effective for durable learning than review by rereading. Learning is stronger still when retrieval practice is spaced out, requiring one to overcome some forgetting, and when practice is varied and interleaved with the practice of other knowledge or skills. Rereading and massed practice (like cramming or single-minded repetition of a new skill) are the more commonly used strategies, but are less effective than people believe.