Monday, February 07, 2011

Made to Stick Learning

Urban legends, conspiracy theories, Internet memes, and popular advertising campaigns all have something in common: they know how to make information 'stick' - now if we can just apply some of these tools to education, we might really have something. The brothers Heath in Made to Stick have come to an interesting conclusion about creativity - not only is it not highly unpredictable or idiosyncratic, in fact it's just the opposite - it's systematic and that means it can be taught.

In an interesting Israeli study assessing the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, researchers found that instruction in certain successful creative approaches improved the creativity and positive attitude ratings 50% higher than non-instructed controls.  In a similar vein, the Heaths began analyzing extra-sticky ideas and stories and found that they often shared the following qualities:

Concrete Imagery

The pattern makes sense if you think about how the brain is wired to remember (novelty / surprise, imagery, association, emotions, stories) and in regards to simplicity, the brain's limitations regarding working memory. The Heath's have a nice Teachers Guide (see below), but the emphasis is on helping students to realize how using the SUCCES  approach can focus and target their communication, but we could also envision a different Teachers Guide providing suggestions and examples for how to help teachers focus their own communication.

Imagine if lessons plans incorporated simplicity, novelty, imagery, and compelling personal stories on a daily basis! Michael Sandel's great Justice course (bottom video below) shares SUCCES elements and that might be a reason for its extraordinary popularity.

Made to Stick Teachers Guide pdf

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