Book review: “Imparare. Il talento del cervello, la sfida delle macchine”
By Stanislas Dehaene
I strongly advise everybody to read this book, it contains a lot of information that can be read with the eyes of a “teacher”, of a “leader”, of a “parent”, of a “learner” , of a curious person …
The author (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanisl...) graduated as a mathematician at the Ecole Normale Superiore, then took also a master’s degree in computer science and finally left this sector for joining the cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
As the author underlines, the true human ecological niche is the “learning” experience and how we are capable to teach and build educational systems. More than Homo Sapiens we are Homo Docens!
In the first half of the book, it is shown how our brain learns with a focus on the neurobiological aspects, how they interact with the environment, how evolution created the brain as it is with a strong plasticity and a strong pre-wired structures (this neuroscience part is astonishing), with also nice parallels with modern artificial intelligence and neural networks approaches, even the more recent ones like the the Transformers.
In the second half of the book, the four pillars of the learning experience are described:
- Attention (by the way there was in 2017 Google introducing the Transformer architecture in neural networks in a paper with the title “Attention is all you need” … making a revolution in sequential understanding in AI …)
- Active participation (the key idea of the actor-critique architecture in reinforcement learning, or even to some extent of the GAN networks)
- Error learning (the idea behind backpropagation)
- Consolidation ( ☹ still there is not a winning paradigm in making neural network sleeping … Hinton suggested something)
And here I’m reporting the last pages where the author summarized some key points for better learning, especially focused on children but anyhow of general importance for everybody (for each bullet point there is a lot to speak about)
- Do not underjudge the children
- Gain of the sensible periods
- Enrich the environment
- Do not believe children are all different
- Pay attention to the attention
- Make sure children are active, curious, engaged, autonomous
- Make sure every school day is a pleasure
- Stress that not everything is easy, so encourage harder tasks
- Help in deeping the thoughts
- Repeat continuously
- Leave children sleeping