Perhaps my brain is “fried” by this time of the school year, but — hot on the heels of not really “getting” what one publicized study meant (see Help Me Understand The Significance Of This New Study That “Finds Sudden Insights Key to Learning Words”), The New York Times has written about another one with which I am having the same difficulty.

Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas is the title of the article.

It seems to me to say that inductive learning — pushing students to identify patterns and rules from what they see — can be a more effective instructional strategy than deductive learning — giving students “rules” and having them apply those to examples. If that is an accurate understanding of the study the article discusses, I don’t really understand the big deal. Tons of studies and teachers, including me, already know this, and many people have already written about how to apply the brain’s desire to seek patterns to teaching and learning. I’ve written extensively about it in two of my books, Helping Students Motivate Themselves and English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work. In both those books I document multiple studies backing-up its importance and effectiveness.

However, I freely admit I might be missing something here. If so, it won’t be the first time and certainly won’t be the last, either. Please let me know — either way — your interpretation of the study.