Originally Published February 6, 2013 on GeekWire
By: Dave Banks
From Roswell to 9/11 Truthers to Obama Birthers, conspiracies have a way of grabbing the public's attention. Whether it's seeking confirmation bias or wanting to see patterns where there are none, conspiracy theories provide a predictable framework for many. The Web might give rise to many of these hypotheses; it also provides the ammunition to blow holes in their rationales.
There's another conspiracy out there, just waiting to be shot down and it's not a Nazi Moon base or a private banking cabal. In a new book, a couple of tutors-turned-authors set out to tear down The Straight-A Conspiracy.
The book, which is targeted at secondary students, tackles the notion that every kid can't be a straight-A student. In the face of excuses like "I'm not a math person" and "I just don't have an ear for languages," authors Hunter Maats and Katie O'Brien say, those (and others) are just not true.
They destroy the notion that you have to be born smart to understand complex concepts and get good grades, illustrating their point with many examples, including Albert Einstein who once said "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
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Touching on brain chemistry and psychology, the two take a page from Anders Ericsson's theory, made popular by Malcom Gladwell's bestselling book, Outliers, that states that doing something for 10,000 hours can make you exceptional at it. While Maats and O'Brien don't expect 10,000 hours are necessary to excel in Algebra, they do preach the importance of solid attention and plenty of practice leading to exceptional work. Their explanations are engaging, interesting, and entertaining.
The authors believe that if your brain has mastered walking and talking, you have what it takes to conquer quantum physics or anything else. By changing the perception of what is possible, students can truly excel – making education a stress-free experience.
The Straight-A Conspiracy breaks down learning into basic concepts and provides examples of different types of students and how each of them can learn better. Then skills like reading, writing, math, and test prep are simplified into easy tasks that, with enough practice and attention, anyone can master.
Some of the methods are time-tested and found elsewhere, but the approach is unique and written in a style that should appeal to high school students. Ultimately, this is where The Straight-A Conspiracy will find purchase. With any program, communication is one of the biggest obstacles and The Straight-A Conspiracy does a good job of making learning seem fun and good grades attainable.