Synopses & Reviews
The author of the best-selling book What the Best College Teachers Do
is back with more humane, doable, and inspiring help, this time for students who want to get the most out of college--and every other educational enterprise, too.
The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. The creative, successful people profiled in this book--college graduates who went on to change the world we live in--aimed higher than straight A's. They used their four years to cultivate habits of thought that would enable them to grow and adapt throughout their lives.
Combining academic research on learning and motivation with insights drawn from interviews with people who have won Nobel Prizes, Emmys, fame, or the admiration of people in their field, Ken Bain identifies the key attitudes that distinguished the best college students from their peers. These individuals started out with the belief that intelligence and ability are expandable, not fixed. This led them to make connections across disciplines, to develop a "meta-cognitive" understanding of their own ways of thinking, and to find ways to negotiate ill-structured problems rather than simply looking for right answers. Intrinsically motivated by their own sense of purpose, they were not demoralized by failure nor overly impressed with conventional notions of success. These movers and shakers didn't achieve success by making success their goal. For them, it was a byproduct of following their intellectual curiosity, solving useful problems, and taking risks in order to learn and grow.
"Bain (What the Best College Teachers Do), the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of the District of Columbia, weaves a narrative from a series of interviews with a group that includes physicians, lawyers, politicians, Nobel laureates, and MacArthur 'Genius Grant' winners to create a qualitative study of the habits of people who distinguish themselves in their postcollege careers. These interviews are supplemented with sociological and psychological research on the characteristics of a 'good' student. Common threads include passion, creativity, and flexibility. Indeed, the diversity of Bain's subjects, including comedian Stephen Colbert and engineer (and Palm Pilot inventor) Jeff Hawkins, adds veracity to Bain's arguments about embracing curiosity and failure on the path to making an impact. In the last chapter, Bain offers more concrete advice to college students, but again, the author challenges these future leaders by framing his collected wisdom in the form of questions and considerations. Rejecting the notion that a liberal arts education leads to becoming 'jack of all trades and master of none,' Bain finds that broad brushstrokes allowed the most successful among us to draw connections between the world at large and a chosen specialty. This straightforward book about learning habits should appeal to the teenager heading off to college and mindfully planning his/her approach to education." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author of the best-selling What the Best College Teachers Do is back with humane, doable, and inspiring help for students who want to get the most out of their education. The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. Use these four years to cultivate habits of thought that enable learning, growth, and adaptation throughout life.
2012 Virginia and Warren Stone Prize, Harvard University Press
About the Author
Ken Bain is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia.
University of the District of Columbia