Home > Opportunity, R20, Relationships, Rigor > “Made to Stick” – Chapter 3, Concrete

“Made to Stick” – Chapter 3, Concrete

The third chapter concentrates on Concrete. The Heath brothers start out by discussing Aesop’s fables and lessons. “The concrete images evoked by the fable… allowed its message to persist.”  The narrative always makes people remember more because they have the concrete characters and not just the abstract ideas. “Abstraction makes it harder to understand an idea and to remember it.” We can do our job better if we become more concrete.

The Heath Brothers used the example of the Nature Conservancy that used the phrase “results you could walk around on”. But when they were trying to change laws, the concrete was not there so they switched their ideas to Landscapes. They wanted to save landscapes and it gave donors something concrete to think about. Then teach Math in US vs Asia was a huge eye opener. They found that teachers in Asia used existing schema (a ball game) and discussed subtraction which is a abstract idea. But by using Word Problems, again and again, the students retained the information longer and understood it better. George State University also tried this in an accounting course where two imaginary students launched a business and the whole semester of accounting revolved around what might be happening. Students who were ahead were more likely to major in accounting and average students raised an average of 12 points.While reading “Moonwalking with Einstein”, I also learned of these theories of make it memorable to make it stick. If you could find a way to visualize or use your other senses to remember you would be more successful.

The classic teaching example of this is Jane Elliott who in 1968 performed the Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes experiment. Jane treated one group differently and within minutes all students were doing the same. Scores were lower for those were taunted to be inferior. The students in the project were recently interviewed by PBS and students from the original class talked about it being “one of the most profound learning experiences”. I would like to allow students to read more fables and talk about how they are easier to remember instead of just the lessons that are within the fable.

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