Child reading with a flashlight
Child reading with a flashlight
Courtesy of BrickRedBard via Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked the inequities and deep flaws of our formal education systems to degrees that the average person was likely unaware existed. Beyond the many problems inherent with public education in the majority of countries, we have also discovered that K-12 remote learning is generally an inferior substitute for in-person education.

But, the even bigger wakeup call is that our parenting practices and education systems have never been delivering the end-product that we desperately need. The success of humanity depends on the maturation of our youth into self-directed lifelong learners as the norm rather than the exception.

Applied Brain Science

Speed-reading is for skimmers. Slow-reading is for scholars.

Woody Allen’s experience with speed-reading is a loss of comprehension.
Woody Allen’s experience with speed-reading is a loss of comprehension.
Woody Allen’s experience with speed-reading applies to all reading where we don’t invest the time to properly engage with the material. (All illustrations courtesy of

I was just a youth when Evelyn Wood debuted her speed-reading course back in 1959. For years, I was fascinated with the prospect of getting my reading assignments over with as quickly as possible so that I could get on to the fun part of life. Obviously, with this attitude, I wasn’t much of a student during my K–12 years. Fortunately, I massively turned that around. The Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course became a huge sensation. So much so that the Kennedy White House sent staff members to take the course. JFK was (falsely) said to be a speed-reader. The…

Live intentionally and become the person that you aspire to be

A lotus flower.
A lotus flower.

I live my life intentionally. By that, I mean I consciously and deliberately direct who I am. I do this through self-reflection and applying my rational mind to identify the traits and behaviors that best represent the person that I want to be. Then I continuously monitor, assess and course-correct how I’m doing.

The roots of this behavior go back nearly fifty years when I was in my late teens. I came to realize at that time, as I scrutinized myself, as the product of my parent’s rearing, that…

Illustration of a flashcard within a flashcard within a flashcard.
Illustration of a flashcard within a flashcard within a flashcard.
The most powerful flashcards stimulate metacognition.

Okay, you’ve read some articles citing cognitive psychology research about how memory works. Maybe you even accept that retrieval practice, spaced over time, is the most powerful tandem for building durable long-term recallability of the concepts and facts that you want to remember. After all, these principles really are backed by science. The “testing effect” is the best way to train your brain’s recall ability.

There is no easier way to leverage the benefits of retrieval practice than with flashcards. You don’t need a friend or teacher to quiz you. Flashcards are always available at your beck and call.


Metacognition and spaced retrieval: science-backed learning techniques that work

Photo by congerdesign via Pixabay

All of your conceptual knowledge and autobiographical memory is a collection of stories. They’re all connected, like the many URLs that together make up the worldwide web. Like the web, if a “page” in your knowledge and memory “intranet” has no other pages linked to it, then you will no longer be able to retrieve this orphan, and it ceases to be knowledge.

Your conceptual knowledge is part of a narrative by your inner voice. As you come across new opportunities to learn, you play with the new concepts and facts and talk about them with yourself using that inner…

I was a mediocre K–12 student but graduated #1 in my medical school class. Here’s how I did it.

My personal academic growth (all illustrations courtesy of Lev Mazin)

Carol Dweck’s research has proven that with a growth mindset, you can achieve way more than you ever dreamed. But being successful in school, particularly in university, is a complex undertaking. Most of us never come close to realizing our potential as students. I found a set of strategies and tactics to unlock the amazing abilities that all of our brains possess.

Do you think it’s possible to take an average student and teach him or her how to learn so that with a dose of grit and persistence, he or she can become the top student in the school…

Stop studying! If you want to remember what you’ve learned.

The best way to remember what you learn is to stop studying. You’re welcome. You can leave now if you want. Or hang around a bit and learn the science behind this truism.

Many students define their studying, in a practical and everyday sense, as reading and re-reading their textbooks and notes. They are convinced that this repetitive exposure will stuff into their brains everything that they want to learn and remember. Read a book twice, and you’ll learn the content much better than if you read it once. Right…

My Startup is My Philanthropy

I am incredibly fortunate in all respects. My health is excellent. My life is filled with loving relationships. I never experience loneliness. My finances are in fantastic shape relative to my needs and desires. I’m a retired physician and additionally, in 2009, I co-founded an exciting startup, AYTM — Ask Your Target Market where I’m the COO.

Apart from my business activities at AYTM, I have had a burning desire, for years now, to make a massive contribution towards helping students everywhere become much more successful learners. I know first-hand how demanding it is to do the work of learning…

Hi again. I’m David Handel, MD. I practiced medical imaging for over 30 years using tools like CT scans, MRIs and PET scans to study the brain. I retired from radiology last year and now I’m the cofounder of Welcome back to the big finale of our three-part series where we’re reviewing the current status of neuroscience and the latest research about how our brain learns, creates memories and is capable of retrieving those memories. Part I of this series covered the fundamentals of neuroscience relevant to the subject of how our brain learns and creates memories. Part II

Hi, I’m David Handel, MD, retired radiologist and cofounder of This is Part II of our series on the neuroscience of learning and and memory. In Part I, we laid the foundation of basic neuroscience that you’ll need in order to appreciate the more complex and very exciting recent advances we’ve made in understanding how our brain learns, creates new memories and is able recall memories. If you don’t have a basic understanding of Neuroscience 101, I suggest that you read Part I before proceeding.

Let’s begin by establishing the central role of learning and memory in evolution of…

David Handel, MD

Co-founder Helping students achieve academic success. Retired MD. Graduated #1 in my med school class using proven cog-sci learning techniques.

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