How Humans Learn

I started reading the book “How humans learn” by Joshua Eyler. It’s billed as an idea book for college teachers. Being as I am a college teacher, and I like ideas about teaching — I have not been disappointed.


The first chapter deals with Curiosity. Humans learn because they are innately curious: humans come pre-programmed to learn.

Unfortunately, as Eyler explains (citing the research of others), high-stakes learning teaches humans to learn for reasons other than curiosity. “O wow” I thought, “that sounds exactly like my experience as a young student!”

Eyler suggests designing courses around key questions — so that instead of telling a student what they are expected to learn (which could rob them of the excitement and satisfaction of learning) the entire course is framed as a journey of discovery for the student.

I can see great benefits *IF* students will truly invest in it. But, because I teach college students, I have to counteract students who have already been rewarded for suppressing their natural curiosity!

Nevertheless, I have identified the following (work-in-progress) overarching questions for several of the courses I am teaching this semester:

* ESET 181 IT-OT Fundamentals: How are computers used to control critical the physical real world?

* ESET 4481 Critical Infrastructure Defense: How can we best defend critical infrastructure industrial control systems from intentional cyber attack?

* ESET 4487 Professional Development and Certification: How do you become a successful industrial cybersecurity professional?

These now feature prominently at the top of each course page. I have been referring back to them periodically as I interact with students, lecture, and lead discussions. I already like the feeling of congruence and direction it gives me and them.

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One Comment

  1. Sean,
    I came across your blog via Dale Peterson’s weekly email. I commend you for your career-changing dedication as an educator in this most critical of career fields. Sure, brain surgeons may be the tactical epitome of specialization, but try brain surgery without critical infrastructure. 🙂
    Thanks for your thoughts on this book. I like the Socratic questions you ask for the courses above too. You should definitely attract the curious and may stimulate some students if they’re not using those brain cells.
    Keep up the good work!
    Bill

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