The Elements of Learning


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James M. Banner and Harold C. Cannon

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This engaging and helpful book is both a thoughtful celebration of the learning process and a practical guide to becoming a better student. Written by the authors of the acclaimed Elements of Teaching, it is designed to help students of all ages—particularly high school and college students—attain their full potential for success in any area of study.

James M. Banner, Jr., and Harold C. Cannon explore the qualities needed to get the most out of education: industry, enthusiasm, pleasure, curiosity, aspiration, imagination, self-discipline, civility, cooperation, honesty, and initiative. For each of these elements they offer general reflections, useful suggestions, and a description of a fictional student who either embodies or lacks these qualities. The second part of the book helps students understand the environment in which they learn, by focusing on such topics as teachers, the curriculum, ways of learning, and the transition from school to college. The core points of the text are reinforced by answers to questions that haunt students, as well as tips on what to do to become the best student possible. Throughout, the authors encourage students to consider learning as part of their lives and to be active participants in their own education. 

James M. Banner, Jr., is an independent scholar, writer, teacher, association director, and book publisher. Harold C. Cannon, now retired, was division director at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"The Elements of Learning is an ideal companion to the authors' earlier Elements of Teaching. No suggestion here that the student's life is an easy one, but Banner and Cannon draw in the would-be learner with a persuasive blend of advice, encouragement and anecdote."—Bob Lister, Lecturer, University of Cambridge School of Education

"Students of all ages will enjoy reading this well-written book. It is reassuring but challenging. Students are made aware of their responsibilities within the learning process and are reminded of the pleasures to be gained in their journey towards self-reliance. Useful tips and illustrative 'vignettes' admirably enhance the author's message."—Brenda Melville, Independent Inspector for the Office for Standards in Education

“A timely companion to The Elements of Teaching. Original in design and execution, this comprehensive, engaging, discerning, challenging, and encouraging work is eminently calculated to entertain and edify the person willing to become a better student.”—Gwin Kolb, professor emeritus, University of Chicago cover version

"The Elements of Learning addresses the key issues of transitioning from high school to college in a successful way. It is written in an engaging style that students will find easy to read and to digest."—Jack Walls, Student Success Center, Counselor, Career Services, Auburn University

“Divided into 17 short chapters on topics such as curiosity, aspiration and self-discipline, this practical guide should be required reading for high school students.  The suggestions given are clear and thought provoking.”—Judi Repman, American Association of School Libraries

“An enjoyable and stimulating exploration of the challenges of learning and how to handle them. As someone preparing for college, I found the advice the authors gave to be very helpful.”—Julia Clark-Spohn, undergraduate student, Wesleyan University

"Banner and Cannon combine practical advice with a subtle and persuasive analysis of liberal values. Their arguments are sensible and sensitive and constitute a powerful antidote both to mechanism and to dogmatism, particularly in the outstandingly good chapter on 'civility.'—Keith Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, Staffordshire University, England

"An eminently readable book from two distinguished academics, who, from personal experience, know both the self-sacrifice and discipline involved in the learning process together with the rewards which make the effort worth while. The book provides helpful advice for students and their advisors and should, in my opinion, be included in any list of required reading for all would-be students."—Margaret Wrin

“If what we hope to do is connect the personal to the scholarly, then this book can be an excellent supplement to a course which introduces students to scholarship.”—Margit Watts, Author of We Make the Road by Walking

“Like a good sermon, The Elements of Learning presents insightful truths through simple and universally understood examples. ; I’ll recommend it to my son (a high school senior) tonight.”—Mary Stuart Hunter, Director, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina

"Thank you so much for the copy of Elements of Learning. I loved your book when I first read it, and I thoroughly enjoyed going through it again this summer. ; I have often used your directive to 'make being a student replace seeming to be a student' in working with my own students at Eagle Hill School.”—Michael Riendeau, Assistant Headmaster for Academic Affairs at the Eagle Hill School in Hardwick, Mass.

“An eminently readable book that conveys both the discipline involved in the learning process and the rewards that make the effort worthwhile.”—Mrs. Margaret Wrin, retired teacher

"Banner and Cannon have written a thorough, appealing, practical approach to the learning process that any student or educator can benefit from."—Robert P. Jackson

"Those fine humanist scholars, Banner and Cannon, have done it again. Having delightfully restored the human dimension to teaching (The Elements of Teaching, Yale, 1997), they have repeated the exercise for learners. Even if those who would most profit from The Elements of Learning probably won’t do more than glance at it, their teachers should read it from cover to cover to remind themselves that they are, above all, potential sources of inspiration rather than mere passers-on of information. This charming, deeply personal book is worth a hundred drab study guides."—Stewart Ross, writer, teacher and broadcaster

“Banner and Cannon’s Elements of Learning is just as elegant and useful as their earlier The Elements of Teaching. It is at once uplifting and levelheaded. . . . Responds to [the] concerns [of high school students] by offering valuable strategies in a lively style. . . . [An] engaging book [that] explores and celebrates a learning process in which students are active participants.”—Choice

“A sensible guide for adolescents and their parents.”—Choice

The Elements of Learning is just as elegant and useful as their earlier The Elements of Teaching. It is at once uplifting and levelheaded. . . . This engaging book explores and celebrates a learning process in which students are active participants. Recommended for all levels.”—Choice

“High school teachers, parents, college professors, and school counselors may find this book to be a helpful advocate when explaining the value of education to young adults. If only we could get students to read the book.”—Terence A. Beck, Educational Leadership

“Augmenting and reprising their earlier Elements of Teaching, Banner and Cannon outline the 12 qualities students should possess to get the most out of their educational experience and the who’s, what’s, and how’s of learning. Throughout, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning; the short, coherent chapters close with suggestions for putting the concepts into practice. The chapters can be read in any order, and some can be postponed until need dictates. Intended for high schoolers, college students, and mature learners (people over 25 years to school), this thoughtful and reassuring text offers kindly advice to a new generation. A good supplemental course text or library resource for units on study methods.”—Library Journal

"An engaging book for high school students, first-year college students, and new or seasoned professionals in higher education. . . . Read this book with your first-time-in-college students during welcome week, as part of a pre-college experience, or in an introduction to a college course. Read this book as a new professional encouraging your students to think about education as a growth opportunity. Read this book as a seasoned professional to remind you why formal education structures are important and that professionals make a difference in the growth of students."—Reneé F. Borns, National Academic Advising Association Journal

The Elements of Learning is an excellent guide for those students who really want to succeed and genuinely want to learn how to learn.”—VOYA Reviews

"The Elements of Learning is a great book for students and learners who want to explore various aspects of learning and their personal strengths and areas for growth. A helpful text for self-exploration and development."—Andrew Tinnin, M.A., The University at Toledo

Selected by Choice as an outstanding academic title for 2000

Selected as an outstanding book by University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

ISBN: 9780300084528
Publication Date: August 11, 2001
208 pages, 5.5 x 8.25
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