There are certain things about learning that we know. Things like how you are supposed to study in a quiet place and how every student has a different learning style. I just read a very interesting article that turns a lot of these established theories on their heads.
A study by Californian psychologists has shown that there’s no evidence to support teaching to accommodate different learning styles. Even though everybody does prefer getting input in slightly different ways (e.g. visual vs aural), regular teaching is basically equally beneficial to everyone.
Another myth is that you should use the the same quiet study area for every study session. New evidence has shown that if you vary your surroundings, it will better store information in your brain. If information is associated with more than one thing (e.g. sound or visual information), it will help reinforce the neural pathways. Also, if you study more than one thing in a session (e.g. vocabulary, speaking, and listening), it is much more effective than sticking to just one topic.
To summarise, mix it up a little, in both location and subject. See if it works for you!
Full article: The New York Times.
I was just listening to a 60 Minutes podcast and there was a really interesting story about a woman who has been studying the same group of African elephants for almost two decades. American scientist Andrea Turkalo has been studying their behaviour, and focusing particularly on the way they communicate. She can now identify not only what different sounds mean (including greetings, sadness, anger, and all clear), but can even tell the animals apart by their voices. Turkalo’s long years of research are leading towards a greater understanding of elephant behaviour and social interactions, and even towards a dictionary of sorts, so other people can also understand the communication between the animals.
One of the big steps that lead to a lot more understanding was realising that a lot of the noises that elephants make are actually subsonic – so low that humans can’t hear them. These low frequencies are used to communicate and locate other elephants to a range of over 2km. When researchers realised that these sounds existed, they began speeding up their recordings so the sounds became audible, and also examined wave forms on screen.
The range of different ‘expressions’ that elephants use is huge, and the research is fascinating.
For more information, read the transcript, or listen to the podcast (episode released 04 July, ‘The Secret Language of Elephants’ starts around 14:00).