Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham was an extremely valuable read. I learned a lot about my education and study habits and how they could be improved, mainly due to Willingham’s ability to succinctly explain the importance of “prior knowledge” in the process of learning. The way he described the relationship prior knowledge has with the new things you learn was particularly interesting AND useful, as it made the concept of transfer of learning more concrete and easy to understand as well. The idea that the more knowledge one has in a subject, the easier it is to learn and remember new information, was especially impactful, as it gave me a new perspective on the significance of background knowledge.
In addition to discussing the impact of prior knowledge on general learning, I found it especially informative when he explored the relationship between prior knowledge and reading comprehension, since this is an issue I’ve had in learning. His explanation of how a lack of prior knowledge can negatively impact a reader’s ability to understand what they are reading, and how having prior knowledge can aid in comprehension and lead to better recall, seemed so obvious but was something I’d never thought about as much as I feel I should now, as I often struggle with comprehending big long texts, especially when they are related to subjects that I am not totally familiar with. Willingham’s insights gave me a new approach to reading, and I now understand the importance of expanding my background knowledge in order to improve my reading comprehension.
Overall, I have a very positive opinion of Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain. The information presented in the chapter was immediately useful to my education, and I believe that the insights gained from this chapter will continue to be beneficial to me as a student. Willingham’s writing was clear, concise, and easy to understand, and I appreciated his ability to take complex concepts and make them accessible to readers. I would highly recommend this chapter to anyone interested in improving their learning outcomes, as it provides valuable insights into the impact of prior knowledge on learning and reading comprehension.