The books is called Brain Rules, the reader is called Khatzumoto and the innocent bystander in all this is you!
Let the opinionating begin… 🙂
|Title||ブレイン・ルール / Brain Rules|
|Author||ジョン＝メディナ / John MEDINA|
|Language||Japanese (translation of an English-language book)|
|Other Info||The book has a really cool companion website|
|Comments||It’s good to get back to the basics now and then and to have a lot of what many people already knew/suspected about the brain and learning (sleep = good, repetition = good, stress = bad) reinforced in one, solid, authoritative place.
Fluffy newspaper articles written by people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about (often touting the latest poorly done research that somehow demonstrates that it may actually be better to avoid sleep, eat more chocolate and drink more alcohol) can get old fast.
I especially enjoyed Dr. Medina’s memory advice: “Remember to repeat. Repeat to remember.” His observation that there’s actually far too little repetition going on in schools really hit home for me. I wonder if the good doctor knows about SRS, because he should totally get all up on that.
Ultimately, I’m of the opinion that in many countries and in most cases, school does more harm than good and we’d be better off without it, or with a radically reduced, elective version of it. Certainly, we could do better than the glorified prisons we have now. Compulsory schooling: fail. Libraries: win. But…yeah, anyway.
The DVD was a great addition to the book. Simple and humorous, it was a gratifying example of someone actually following his own advice (“we don’t pay attention to boring things”, “[to learn better,] stimulate more of the senses”).
Like I said, the book was a bit long-winded for me: it feels like it could have gotten to the point much quicker than it did. Coming from me, that really is the pot calling the kettle black, so…deal with the irony as you will, hehe. Personally, I got the most out of the DVD and website. So if you do get the book, get it for the DVD. You could also get the audiobook (currently only available in English, AFAIK) and play it at high speed or something.
I’ve never actually read the English version of the book, so it could be that this is a case where the translator didn’t have time to chew the book down into smooth, fluid Japanese. Those who know, know that English can sound very belabored and heavy-handed when translated semi-literally into Japanese. (Translators are sometimes rushed into producing work that doesn’t reflect the full extent of their abilities: I speak from professional experience. I don’t think it’s a question of malice, it’s just that a lot of people — even within the translation industry — don’t realize that a good translator doesn’t simply convert text, but rewrites and re-interprets it).
Anyway, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing, hearing and reading more from Dr. Medina in the future. His is a voice that needs to be heard.
Random aside: my friend Eisuke and I were wondering why audiobooks aren’t as common in Japan as they are in the US. We concluded that it must be because so many people use trains here.
While people in rural areas move primarily by car, all Japan’s major urban centers have excellent public transportation networks up and running. You’ll notice that people in trains are always busy reading newspapers, manga, and bunkobons, so there’s simply not as much absolute need for non-text books.
Having said that, reading in a packed train can kind of suck a bit, even with a bunkobon. So I’m sure audiobooks would be a welcome development. I know I’d be all over it. I used to hate audiobooks, thinking they were for idiots who couldn’t read. And slow audiobooks still annoy the heck out of me, but high-speed audiobooks are right up there with kittens and tall women.