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“You Are Smarter Than You Think” by Renee Mollan Masters

“You Are Smarter Than You Think” by Renee Mollan Masters

sddefaultAbout three decades ago while working on producing a parenting show for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Masters discovered the research conducted by Dr. Howard Gardner from Harvard University. Though she already had a profound experience as she was reading it, she realized that everything that she had ever experienced and learned about memory and learning truly came together in that moment. She understood straightaway Gardner’s research and came up with ideas about how she could apply such new knowledge. It did not take long that she shared the information while giving a lecture at a local college with her students. She then gave her students an assignment, where she asked them to study that evening using the ideas. The next day, she was amazed by what happened to her students, reporting success that they said was beyond their expectations. This was the beginning of the learning system she covers in her book “You Are Smarter Than You Think!”

Who Is Renee Mollan Masters

Renee Masters obtained her maxresdefaultMaster’s Degree in Speech Pathology from the California State University in Fullerton. A woman who was always been gifted at applying research, Masters was acknowledged by the faculty when she received the Outstanding Senior Clinician honor during her senior year. After she graduated, she served as a speech pathologist at the Fountain Valley School District, where she developed a laboratory for reading perception, which was adopted by the state of California as a model program. Later on, she was running a private practice in speech pathology for several years.

In 1980, Masters wrote the handbook, “Yes They Can”, which focuses on effectively parenting children with disabilities. It was also this time when she held lectures and workshops on the subject. In 1987, she developed You Are Smarter Than You Think learning system and taught it to students in colleges all over Southern California, later refining the program for the Orange Coast College to be included in the class curriculum called How to Survive College. In 1992, the first edition of her book, “You Are Smarter Than You Think!” was published, with its learning system being applied in the universities and colleges, this time it is throughout the US. Her goal of developing such a system was to make education more worthwhile and equitable for students everywhere. At present, Masters lives with her husband in the mountains in the outskirts of Ashland, Oregon.

Her Experience

According to Masters, walking this world not knowing your brain talent is disastrous. On her book’s website, she wrote, “One lie that we tell ourselves is that when we finish school we are done learning. But everyone knows that that is not true. And if you don’t know how your brain functions, when you are trying to learn something, using your brain incorrectly, it feels like you are walking up hill backwards. Everything feels like it is against you. If you put diesel fuel in your gas car, your car would not run very well. You would not be able to access its full potential as a car. In fact it probably wouldn’t move forward an inch. That is how handicapped you are when you don’t use your brain talents. It is like someone putting the wrong fuel in and it is as cumbersome as walking up a hill backwards.”

During her post-college years, she had an important realization about not trusting oneself. While she had done things well, deserving the degree that she deserved, she always had the feeling that she was not in the right position. “Even though I did well in my career, I always felt like a fraud. When you have never felt like you could be successful in your early school years, those feeling are still there speaking to you in the background. I majored in Speech Pathology, and that was lucky. Everything that we learned was related to the clients we worked with in the clinic. The education was experiential, which is one of my brain-talents. So I breezed through college – even got a Master’s Degree but that feeling of being a fraud never left me. The feeling was one of believing that someone would find me out,” she said.

Masters stated that it did not have anything to do with the quality of her work, as she was confident that she excelled at school and in her private practice. She pointed out that all the success she had made her confused, not trusting herself and feeling like someone was going to find her out someday. Then, the feeling instantly went away when she read Gardner’s work, where he talks about the way the human brain needs different things to learn, helping Masters to have a better understanding of her educational experience. She shared, “When I was in 2nd grade my best friend was moved to 3rd grade because she was “smarter” than the rest of us. Then in college we took a botany class together and it was taught experientially. Even the test was given this way. After the first test I had received the highest grade in the class and she had received a C. I suddenly understood that that happened not because of a fluke but it happened because I was using my brain correctly and didn’t even know it. And my friend was up a creek without a paddle and probably didn’t know what happened either.”

With regards to feeling overwhelmed after college, Masters said that this is just natural. In fact, she stated that learning does not stop when a person graduates from college, and the workload would even increase. Sharing his experience, she wrote, “I can remember right out of college I had so much material to digest just to stay current. The feeling was overwhelming. Often I would just toss the papers out because it was too much. I experienced this as overwhelming, because I had no understanding of my brain talents. I was trying to process all this linguistic material using my linguistic brain talents which are not my best. It felt like running up a hill backwards. Overwhelmed feelings happen when the glass feels already too full. When to add more, seems impossible. And when you don’t know what your brain talents are, that is exactly how it feels.”

When one uses his or her brain correctly, as what “You Are Smarter Than You Think!” implies, information will instantly go to long-term memory, where it can be used. This means that he or she does not have to review the material over and over, as he or she would already know it, and can get through the material much faster.

You Are Smarter Than You Think!

In this book, Masters talks about brain functioning on all cylinders, emphasizing that brains are more different than fingerprints. So how does “You Are Smarter Than You Think!” specifically work? Well, it aims to help you to discover your brain fingerprint and then demonstrates how you can use such new knowledge to your advantage. To uncover your brain talents, the book lets you take fun and interesting self-evaluations, and based on the results, you will be shown some steps on using those talents when listening to a lecture, reading a text book, and studying and taking a test.

The learning system developed by Masters offers a guide to experience your brilliance, be inspired and ensure that what you do will have meaning. Particular benefits that you can get from using your brain include better grades, less stress while taking tests, better performance on college boards, scholastic aptitude tests (SATs), etc., as well as ease at graduate schools.

The book has several success stories, including one about a student named Debbie Gallagher, who was in a nursing program and was a very good student. Gallagher shared that when she got to nursing, her test scores dropped to 73, which was an experience that really scared her. Because of this, she gave in and read “You Are Smarter than You Think!” According to her, it was really difficult to make some of the changes she had to make, such as taping her lectures, thinking that the entire process would take so much of her time. But eventually, she reported that she was surprisingly able to learn the information much faster, and it stayed with her long after she took the test. While at first she did not expect the book had anything to teach her, she eventually realized that she was “turning her back on gold”.

Another story involves Berry, who was a new graduate student going back to school for work. According to him, school had always been easy, so before he took his first test, he crammed and promptly failed. Like any other student who would flunk an important test, Berry could not believe it, with people close to him suggesting to apply the information not just experience the same thing. Fortunate for him, his best friend had heard about this Masters’ book and told him about it, which prompted him to get a copy and read it over the weekend. The new techniques designed to work with his personal brain intrigued him, and having nothing to lose, he tried to apply everything he learned for the next test—and the results were perfect. Berry said that he really understood the material, making him able to answer the questions. “It was amazing – so simple and yet very powerful”, Berry concluded.

The book has also helped an adult learner named Betty, who is a licensed vocational nurse who had tried several times to get into a nursing program. She said that she failed the entrance exam a couple of times, and encouraged by one of her instructors, she started reading the book. Using her newly learned techniques, she retook the test and was surprised that she did not only pass it, but she also got one of the highest scores.

Believing that we all live in a linguistic world, many of us have probably experienced never feeling to belong, especially those who are linguistic learners. Well, Masters said that this is why she wrote “You Are Smarter Than You Think!” Being around for 25 years, her book and learning system now have an online site that offers training that is fun and easy, but will ultimately make you feel differently about yourself. As promised by Masters, you will be able to function at a much higher level and will be able to get rid of that feeling of doubt.

The Science Behind the Book’s Program

ReneeBasically, the program in the book “You Are Smarter Than You Think!” is based upon two essential pieces of information, which are the research on learning styles by Dr. Howard Gardner and the language processing abilities that are used in speech pathology. In the 1960s, Gardner wrote a book called “Frames of Mind”, where he talked about how his daughter seemed brilliant before she attended school, but as she studied, she appeared just normal. This motivated Gardner to do some research on learning, where he found out that all individuals learn differently—a discovery that is very new during that time. Originally, he uncovered seven types of learning attributes, but added two more later.

As for the program of Masters’ book, it applies the first seven, which are linguist, logical, spatial, musical, body kinesthetic, knowing self and knowing others. Also, the first self-evaluation that a person will take in the book’s program will look for the individual’s talents in these seven different areas. The second brain talent that is looked at is related to language processing, where it was discovered that everyone has his or her own preference for how he or she encodes language (the exchange with words and not pictures). While some people like to hear language, others like to read it. Also, there are those that like to hear and read language together. For school language, it is used during lectures, studying for or taking a test and reading a text book, which means that it is all highly language driven.



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