The Book of Learning and Forgetting


Something is being learned, whether we want it or not, all the time. (p. 5)

You learn for the company you keep. (p. 9)

The problem in school is not that many students aren’t learning, but what they are learning. (p. 10)

Teachers sometimes rationalize making learning unnecessarily complicated for children by saying they have to be “Challenged.” (p. 27)

Long-term memory is a network put together from all your experience. (p. 33)

It is always easier to remember the unusual or unpredictable than it it to remember everyday events, and certainly much easier to recall them (p. 39)

Anything that makes sense to us is integrated into our continually growing knowledge of ourselves and of the world, and it is never lost. It becomes part of us. (p. 54)

“We can learn without effort if we are interested in what we are doing (or in what someone else is doing), free from confusion, and given assistance when we seek it.” (Smith, 1999, p. 43)

“Learning will advance in the classic way if learners watch out for two danger signals: (1) when they find themselves trying deliberately to memorize what they are studying or practicing, and (2) when they find themselves plowing through material and activities where they remember nothing except that they were confused.” (Smith, 1999, pp. 87-88)

“The difficulty in getting many teachers – or their administrators – to change their attitudes and their ways in not that they are ignorant, but that they are insecure.” (Smith, 1999, p. 96)

“The solutions for both teachers and administrators is the same – to invite them into liberated classrooms, not as observers but as participants.” (Smith, 1999, p. 96)

“All the good teachers I have known have been good organizers, arranging interesting experiences for their students and themselves, and protecting those experiences from officious interference.” (Smith, 1999, p. 101)



Smith, F. (1999). The Book of Learning and Forgetting. New York: Teachers College Press.


ISBN-13: 978-0807737507
ISBN-10: 080773750X

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