📖Why Books Don't Work

Andy Matuschak
  • every learning tool (books, lectures, note-taking, etc) have an underlying model of how humans learn (cognitive model)

    • transmissionism: the cognitive model in which it’s enough for lecturer to say words for students to understand

      • the real learning, though, happens after the lecture when people try solving the problems
    • to understand something, you must actively engage with it
  • books also implicitly assume transmissionism
  • textbooks (with exercises) have an explicit cognitive model

    • that still leaves a lot of metacognitive burden on the students: evaluation which exercises are worth doing, whether student understands the underlying concept behind exercises
    • courses help with metacognitive burden: provide feedback on exercises (group and/or individual), fine-grained help if students are stuck
    • courses also have social and emotional parts
  • instead of trying to fix books, we can design new mediums altogether
  • people struggle to absorb new material when their working memory is already overloaded (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4207727/)

    • e.g., if you were just introduced a lot of new terms, you likely won’t absorb much from a sentence that uses many of those terms at once