I am a prolific author. I've written, co-written or edited 37 books at the last count. They all aim to bring the important insights of psychological and other technical literatures to wider audiences: high quality “pop psychology” if you like. Some are for the general reader; many are for educators.
The Future of Teaching
And the Myths That Hold It Back (2021)
School is an anachronism. It urgently needs updating so it readies all young people for the modern world. But the search for better ways of teaching is being hampered by some major misconceptions about children’s minds.
In The Future of Teaching, I tackle these stultifying beliefs and show that education doesn’t just fill children’s minds; it profoundly shapes they way they think and learn – often to their detriment. New science is uncovering these mistaken assumptions and showing how teaching can evolve so that children’s minds are powerfully and reliably shaped for the better.
I worked in university departments of education for 20 years, teaching and researching about learning – what it involves and how to make it better. We found that as people grow up they develop certain habits of mind that either expand or constrain how good they are at learning, and that schools exert a powerful influence not just on what people learn but on how they learn – how they respond to uncertainty and difficulty.
Around 1990, I started working directly with schoolteachers to deliberately create cultures in their classrooms that strengthened these so-called positive learning dispositions. Out of those collaborations emerged what I originally called Building Learning Power, and now, more broadly, refer to as The Learning Power Approach. This work has spawned many books and has had impact in schools around the world.
The Learning Power Approach
The Learning Power Approach (LPA) is a new school of thought, emerging in different groups and schools around the world, about how to prepare children and young people better to thrive in a complicated world: what it takes to do so and how schools can do it better. If we teach in a certain way, children will grow a core of their character that enables them to pursue worthwhile and necessary challenges in their lives with skill and confidence. We have identified what those skills are, and what the “design principles” of a classroom are that nurture the growth of those skills over time.
The Learning Power Approach
Teaching Learners to Teach Themselves (2017)
In the first book of a four-part series on the Learning Power Approach, I set out the design principles behind a way of teaching that aims to strengthen students' learning dispositions and develop their independence, initiative, determination and love for learning. The book reviews the supporting evidence that underpins the LPA, and introduces some of the small tweaks to daily practice that make the theory a reality.
Powering Up Students
The Learning Power Approach to High School Teaching (2019)
In Powering Up Students, Graham Powell and I show how the LPA works in the high school context of demanding subject content and high-stakes testing. We explain a wide range of teaching methods and lesson designs that build students' confidence and independence as learners at the same time as boosting test scores and subject mastery.
Powering Up Children
The Learning Power Approach to Primary Teaching (2019)
In this book, Becky Calrzon and I use the LPA design principles to provide a rich compendium of effective teaching strategies for use in the primary school classroom. Powering Up Children offers a thorough explanation of how LPA applies in the context of primary school by presenting a wide range of practical strategies and classroom examples.
Powering Up Your School
The Learning Power Approach to School Leadership (2020)
In this book, school leaders Jann Robinson, Rachel Macfarlane, Graham Powell, Gemma Goldenberg and Robert Cleary join me in sharing a wealth of practical advice about embedding LPA in a whole-school culture and empowering teaching to deliver its benefits to students. Powering Up Your School is built around a series of illuminating case studies of pioneering school principals who have successfully undertaken the LPA journey.
Like all good frameworks, the LPA developed and improved over time. It began with the development of a broad psychological knowledge base about 'learning to learn', and gradually evolved into a detailed, road-tasted approach to teaching. This section contains some of my earlier books that trace the journey from the initial research that demonstrated that learning can be learnt, to the present day.
What's the Point of School?
Rediscovering the Heart of Education (2008)
In this book, I argue that education's key responsibility should be to create enthusiastic learners. Blending down-to-earth examples with the latest advances in brain science, What's the Point of School? aimed to inspire teachers, parents and readers of all backgrounds to join a practical revolution and foster in the next generation a natural curiosity and spirit of adventure.
Teaching Learners for the Real World. (2013)
In this book, Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and I bring together many examples from a wide range of schools in many different countries that illustrate this revolutionary shift in educational vision and practice. We show that internationally teachers are becoming increasingly familiar with key concepts such as habits of mind and expandable intelligence, and are learning how to instil these valuable mindsets in their students.
The Learning Powered School
Pioneering 21st Century Education (2011)
In The Learning Powered School, Maryl Chambers, Bill Lucas, Graham Powell and I show how BLP has developed and flourished since its inception. This book is rooted in the experience of the schools and teachers who have understood the promise of BLP, and presents the evidence that we have gathered of its practicability and effectiveness.
What Our Children Really Need to Learn (2015)
This book is aimed specifically at parents of school-age children. It describes why it is both desirable and possible to cultivate confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship in young people. Featuring the views of students, parents, educators and employers and drawing on a wide range of practical examples of scholarly research, Bill Lucas and I invite parents to join the battle for educational renewal.
Building Learning Power (2002)
Building Learning Power (BLP) was my first attempt to show teachers how they could deliberately grow their students confidence, capability and appetite to take charge of their own learning - and get better results in the process. BLP showed that "learning to learn" is a real possibility, but it has to be more than a quick fix or a few slogans and posters.
Learning to Live the Learning Life (1999)
Wise Up explores the cognitive science research that underpins Building Learning Power and the Learning Power Approach more generally. This research unpacks what it takes to be a powerful learner and spells out the nature of these key learning dispositions. It also proves that these dispositions are malleable: there are evidence-based ways in which they can be deliberately cultivated.
As a cognitive scientist, the main focus of my work has been on expanding our conception of real-world intelligence. Real-world intelligence is fascinating because it depends as much on our values and emotions as it does on intellect.
The processes of mind and body are so intricately interwoven that, should we neglect any part of them, we automatically become less intelligent. I’ve explored and integrated this fast-developing field in a series of books.
Intelligence in the Flesh
Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than It Thinks (2015)
Intelligence in the Flesh is the latest in a series of book-length exploration of the many conscious, cerebral, aspects of human intelligence. The idea that we are only smart from the neck up, and that is is only brains and neurons that make us intelligent, are not only false, they have profoundly skewed the development of cultural institutions such as education and the law.
The Wayward Mind
An Intimate History of the Unconscious (2005)
The Wayward Mind charts the different ways, over the course of human history, that notions of the unconscious have been developed to 'explain' seemingly weird aspects of human behaviour such as demonic possession, psychosis and creativity. I show how earlier constructs such as divine intervention, and the Freudian subconscious are giving way to scientifically grounded theories of the mind.
Hare Brain Tortoise Mind
How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less (1998)
Intelligence does not only proceed at the speed of thought: it is both faster and slower than conscious thinking. In Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, I explore the slower ways of knowing and explain how we could and should use them more often and more effectively. I review the wealth of evidence, from cognitive science and elsewhere, that shows how intelligence is much more than rational intellect.
The Heart of Buddhism
A Simple Introduction to Buddhist Practice (2013)
In this book, I explain why the applied philosophy and psychology of Buddhism are so well suited to our contemporary individual, social and global predicaments. I offer a practical, comprehensive and non-mystical approach to achieving peace of mind and generosity of spirit through deepening understanding and meditation.
Noises From the Darkroom
The Science and Mystery of the Mind (2013)
Noises from the Darkroom draws on psychology, biology and mysticism together into a new theory of human consciousness. Starting from an evolutionary perspective, I show how the mind has emerged from the brain, and how, along the way, some crucial misapprehensions have slipped into our unconscious models of ourselves.
The Psychology of Awakening
Buddhism, Science and Our
Day-to-Day Lives (1999)
The Buddhist view of the mind - how it works, how it goes wrong, how to put it right - is increasingly being recognised as profound and highly practical by scientists, counsellors and other professionals. In this book, compiled by Stephen Batchelor, Gay Watson and myself, some of the most influential thinkers in East-West Psychology explore Buddhism's powerful vision of human nature and its implications for personal and social life to wider audiences.