A conversation with Barbara Oakley: Uncommon Sense Teaching | UFM Talks

Isabel Cacacho  | 05 de noviembre de 2021  | Vistas: 56

Learning has taken many turns throughout history. Every day, teaching institutions look for improvements for their tools and strategies to catch the student's interest and attention. Thanks to technology, there are a lot of new ways for teachers to play with, and make their jobs easier. However,  nowadays there are a lot of challenges to overcome, since many of the most effective methods have been disregarded due to the new possibilities to have information on the tip of our fingers, and the connection that there use to be with a student and teacher has been lost because of online lessons. In this edition of UFM Talks, Barbara Oakley and Carmen Rodriguez, have a thorough conversation on how to tackle all these challenges through uncommon sense teaching and generate amazing impressions on students of all ages to encourage them to keep learning.  

“Knowing about learning and how to learn effectively also helps you to approach life in a much more balanced way.” - Barbara Oakley

Barbara begins sharing about her MOOC and the effectiveness it has had pursuing its goal: teaching how to learn. She proudly explains how they search to help students understand how their brains work while they learn. That has brought a lot of curiosity on them to test new methods to achieve their goals with this knowledge. She shares that these discoveries were the result of extensive research on how many common-sense ideas on how people learn effectively,  were actually ineffective and searched for counterintuitive ideas about effective learning and based her books and programs on this concept. 

One of the reasons she became curious about how our learning process works was due to a question that bothered her for over 50 years after she learned a new language. The academy she was in had some of the best methods and researchers to teach languages specifically. However, she applied the techniques while learning other things and it would still work, and with that, she began her research on how our brains work neurologically. Barbara points out the relevance of actually learning through procedural systems and complicated patterns. Nowadays many young people rely on the tools that technology has given them, to simply look things up on the internet and use calculators, which are really helpful, but students need to learn from complicated patterns and declarative systems to have critical thinking and acquire the skills and drills to be creative in their methods to do research and absorb new information. It is good to apply some traditional teaching methods because they are backed up with extensive research and they can be very beneficial. 

“If you fall in love with the process of learning, and if you get used to struggling through the initial stages of when you are learning something new, then it will make it better for you when you are learning anything else.”- Carmen

One of the best tools shared in this conversation to improve the learning experience is to inspire motivation in the students. Excitement can be infectious and it is up to teachers to share it. By making students believe they can be bigger than life, they can get the most satisfactory results in their process. Most of the time there will be students that don't feel they are in the place to learn or that they need to, especially when they have so many topics while being in school, and they feel they can choose one to dislike and give up on. But if you can give the kid enough curiosity on at least one topic of the area, they will learn to want it, and if you can reach a kid to learn from their own will, that is all you’ll really need. It is possible to fall in love with the learning process. Learning itself can make you feel good. If you can make kids excited enough to try to learn something, they will try and be able to fail and still want to learn the answer because neurologically, a trail of neurons connected to the skill will be rewarded with dopamine, and they will feel successful and fulfilled. 


Ph.D. in Systems Engineering at Oakland University, co creator of Learning…

Directora, Formación Continua UFM


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín