Book: How to Learn

How to Learn

From novice to expert in 3 simple steps





Buy the book:

Paperback: AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE (US only)

eBook: KINDLE | iBOOK | KOBO | NOOK (US only)


Read edited extracts* from the book:

Chapter 2: What is learning?

Chapter 5: The 3 steps to learning

Chapter 7: Comfortable with discomfort

Chapter 14: Sense and sensibility 

Chapter 19: Hard times

*please note these extracts were edited for serialisation in SecEd magazine and do not reflect the exact content or text of the book.


Read the blurb (from Amazon):


“A wise, accessible and practically useful book” – Professor Bill Lucas, author of Educating Ruby

“Compelling, clear and convincingly argued” – Dr Jill Berry, author of Making the Leap

“A useful summary of research [and] a helpful contribution to the literature” – Mary Myatt, senior inspector and author of High Challenge Low Threat

From Amazon: “Outstanding” … “Invaluable stuff” … “Sensible, pragmatic” … “Really informative” … “So good my headteacher’s disappeared with it” … “A great book” … “A must-buy” … “Superbly practical” … “Convincing, compelling”


How to Learn – the new book by Matt Bromley (best-selling author of How to Lead, Making Key Stage 3 Count, and The New Teacher Survival Kit) – takes you from novice to expert in three simple steps:

1. Create a positive learning environment to stimulate sensory memory
2. Think hard but efficiently to gain the attention of – but cheat – working memory
3. Engage in deliberate practice to improve storage in, and retrieval from, long-term memory

For each of the 3 steps, the author shares his top 10 tips, melding cognitive science with tangible teaching strategies, and evidence with experience, to turn theory into practice and answer the age-old question, ‘What does this look like in the classroom?’

This book is ideal for teachers and learners alike, whether imparting complex curriculum knowledge to help pupils pass exams, or developing skills to improve your performance in a hobby or interest.

The central argument of the book is that the process of learning is the interaction between our sensory memory and our long-term memory…

Our sensory memory is made up of: what we see – this is called our iconic memory; what we hear – our echoic memory; and what we touch – our haptic memory. Our long-term memory is where new information is stored and from which it can be recalled when needed, but we cannot directly it. As such, the interaction occurs in our working memory, the only place we can think and do.

As such, and to stimulate our sensory memory and engage the attention of our working memory, we need to create conditions conducive to learning, conditions which stimulate our iconic, echoic and haptic memories.

Next, to utilise our limited working memory, we need to think hard and be challenged by work that is difficult but achievable because if the work is too easy, we will complete it through habit – this is called ‘automaticity’, and if the work’s too hard, we won’t complete it because we will overpower our limited working memory – this is called ‘cognitive overload’.

But, whilst thinking hard, we also need to think efficiently and cheat the limited space in working memory by learning new things in the context of what we already know (allowing us to ‘chunk’ information into ‘schema’ and save space).

Once we have processed information in our working memory, we need to encode it in our long-term memory, so we can easily retrieve it later. To do so, we need to engage in deliberate practice – and use spacing and interleaving – to increase storage strength and retrieval strength.

This book also includes action plans and lesson planning materials which can be put into immediate use to help improve the effectiveness of your teaching and learning today.

Download free posters to accompany the book

Read edited extracts from the book serialised in SecEd Magazine

Download a free PDF booklet of all the articles serialised in SecEd Magazine