Zombies, brains, and cutting back on homework

What can you learn from a fictional soap opera about a zombie apocalypse? A lot, apparently.

The University of California, Irvine, is offering a course on the subject: “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC's 'The Walking Dead'"

One of the professors noted that the cable television series has a lot of themes which tie in with the courses offered at UC Irvine. If this discourages you from sending your child to UC Irvine, you may have good reason. But there is a more important point here to consider.

You can take almost any subject (including, apparently, zombies) and find connections to just about any other topic that interests you. In fact, the human brain is very good at this, and it enhances your learning. Drawing connections helps you to see things from a different perspective. Your brain builds new synapses connected to the topics, and you'll be able to recall information from these topics more readily.

This offers a special clue to learning.

There's research that suggests you need 1,000 hours to become competent in a subject. If you're constantly making connections, you can put in your hours even when you study something else.

In other words, study biology form an economist's perspective. You'll be able to put in your 1,000 hours of biology and economics simultaneously.

This time-saving is important in light of a recent report that doing more than an hour or two of homework can be detrimental.

What do you make of all this? Here's what I think. If you do less homework, make sure you spend most of that time on things that contribute to the quality of your life. Get outside and play soccer. Do something fun with your friends or family. Take up a hobby or a sport, or play an instrument.

Just don't fritter your time away watching zombie shows. Or if you do, consciously look for the hidden connections and lessons.

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2 Replies to “Zombies, brains, and cutting back on homework”

  1. Only two hours of homework a day? What are you, some kind of zombie-hater? (JK 🙂 Seriously you can save time by multi-tasking homework just like anything else but does this really make you learn it better? Doesn’t multitasking distract you and make you leaarn less?

    • Hi Wilson, I’m glad you posted a comment. Multi-tasking fragments your attention and your mental ability. What I’m writing about here is the opposite–integrating your learning. Instead of breaking your attention into separate pieces, you’re taking separate pieces of knowledge and connecting them. I learned Italian this way, to a large extent. I’m learning physics like this. If you’re skeptical, all I can say is try it for yourself. Thanks for posting!

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