Learning how to learn and the Pomodoro technique

An engaging lecture and food for thought

As I mentioned earlier Barbara Oakley, the author of “Learning how to Learn” and also many other books, visited our school to talk to our staff. To begin with, she has a fascinating story about how she moved around a lot when she was young, I think around 8 different places and states, resulting in the fact that she was left behind in learning math. And being gifted in languages and art, for instance, she settled for exploring other areas than math, like joining the military and moving to Russia to learn the Russian language. But later on, at the age of 26, she decided she was going to pursue math and she ended up becoming an engineering professor, much because she adopted smart techniques in learning.

The lecture, at least for me, was fascinating, and I wish my students had been able to attend as well. Especially the point about how important it is to sleep in between your learning, and the importance of repetition and giving yourself a reward after studying! Very smart. I did find some videos with professor Oakley and I am sharing them here at the end. I will be using these with my students.

The Pomodoro Technique

In the picture below that I took during the lecture, you see the slide she used to explain the Pomodoro technique. One of the most important points here, in my opinion, is to turn off all distractions and give yourself a reward at the end of your work. It could be a mini break, listen to a song, have a chocolate, whatever motivates you. Pomodoro is a cyclical system. You work in short sprints , which makes sure you’re consistently productive. You also get to take regular breaks that bolster your motivation and keep you creative. The point here is to add something positive to something you might be deferring and by that changing the negative to be positive. The effect is that you are making the act of studying and working on a difficult topic more positive. And the magic lies within the 25 minute time frame. 

Show the video below to your students and discuss with them how they study and why this might be a good way to work. And did you know that you can actually take a course online? Read on to find out more about Barbara Oakleys MOOC on the subject.

Learning is not always easy, and there may be a biological reason for that. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley, author of  Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, teaches the world’s largest online open class, commonly referred to as MOOCs. So you might be wondering what subject attracts more people than any other free online course? Learning to learn better is the what Oakley teaches. One of the most effective techniques she knows of was created by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo, and you may have heard of it. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. What makes the technique so effective is that it trains your brain to cocentrate for 25 minutes. What’s so magical about 25 minutes? Research shows that your brain suffers for 20 minutes when you first try to concentrate, so outlasting that pain will help you get into a flow state of focus. You’ll just need to summon the willpower to put your phone away. Source: Valuewalk


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