The book's subtitle is "Thinking Skills for the 21st Century." Heiman and Slomianko developed a course based on research from the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) that showed the most important of all skills needed in a global economy is the ability to learn. Knowing how to learn enables a person to become competent in all other basic workplace skills.
Heiman and Slomianko worked closely with ASTD to create a version of LTL for corporate America, and the program now is being taught to students of all ages, including those already in the workplace. Students across the United States are learning how to learn, and they're not only having fantastic success in school, they have an edge in the workplace from the very start.
Students left behind to fail, dropouts struggling to earn a GED, adults who have never felt successful, all are finding they can learn. Teachers at all levels find students respond immediately to Learning to Learn (LTL). Here's one testimonial from LearningtoLearn.com:
"I've been using Learning to Learn for the last three months, and the difference in my students is amazing. First, they're learning so much more, and doing so much better in class. Before I started using LTL, if I were to legitimately grade my students, most of them would fail. Now they're able to answer complex questions on tests. I had to raise my standards, or they'd all get A's. With LTL, my students are active and involved, and they really get interested in what they're learning. It almost seems hard to remember now, but just three months ago, they were nodding off in class. I've been teaching for 29 years, and I've never seen anything like this. I leave school smiling at the end of the day. I'm having a wonderful time." — Robert Healey, Science Teacher, Boston, MA
You'll find more testimonials from both students and teachers on the LTL website. They're pretty surprising.
LTL is based on two major skills:
- Generating questions from lecture notes and books;
- Constructing visual organizers that answer a student's questions.
- Ask questions of new material presented in lectures or books—thinking about which questions the material answers, and which it does not;
- Break up large tasks and complex ideas into smaller parts;
- Are goal-directed; direct their study to meet their instructor's objectives;
- Take feedback, testing themselves informally to see how much they're learning.
Heiman says these are natural learning skills. They're skills we use every day without even thinking about it. When you drive a car, you are constantly assessing the situation surrounding you, asking yourself questions, making decisions about what you will do next. LTL teaches students to use these same skills in the classroom.
LTL in the ClassroomIn the classroom, LTL involves concrete skills based on the four major thinking skills. Students learn to:
- Question what they read in books or hear in lectures and make guesses about what it means, what comes next, how it might be tested. "You'll become a more active learner," Heiman writes, "bring to the table what you've learned elsewhere—not just waiting for a table of answers. And you'll predict your exam questions."
- Break up material into smaller parts, allowing them to manage time better and keep from feeling overwhelmed by complex subjects. From Heiman: "Being goal-directed—directing your studying to meet your (and your instructors') objectives—will help you find important facts and ideas in your class notes and textbooks. Combined with the questioning methods, working through small learning tasks will help you test yourself—so that you can assess your learning progress before your instructors do."
Heiman encourages students by assuring them that although LTL seems like a collection of separate skills, once the skills are learned and applied in different combinations of methods, adapted to each students' needs, they will begin to see LTL as a "system of writing questions, breaking up complex tasks and ideas into smaller parts, setting learning goals, looking for feedback on your completion of these goals—and evaluating the process you went through."
In the next few weeks, we'll be writing more about LTL, and we're excited about bringing you an interview with Marcia Heiman. So stay tuned!