Is it possible to learn an entire curriculum in an hour? (Hint: Yes it is)


The Three and Ten Technique to Hack Learning

       Admittedly, I did not like biology very much in high school. I think it was probably the teacher, who had a poor attitude, or maybe I just thought it was boring. The class seemed to drag on forever each day. After four months of the class, I had barely learned anything and had to take a mid-term.

Unfortunately, I did not know about the 3 x 10 technique, which was discovered by Dr. Douglas Fields, a neurologist at the National Institute of Heath.

Dr. Fields, who researches memory and learning, discovered that your brain makes a stronger connection in your memory for what you are reading, practicing, or mastering something new, if you practice and then rest 10 minutes.[1]

Many studies have shown that, “Any form of spacing whether it is fixed or expanding appears to promote learning. In studies comparing either a fixed or expanding schedule to a massed schedule in which three or more presentations of an item occur back-to-back in immediate succession, it has been consistently demonstrated that either type of spacing schedule produces better learning than a massed schedule.”[2]

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Researchers have taken spacing practice even further. In a 2013 study, researchers found that on using a specific timed pattern of three repeated stimuli separated by 10 min spaces of distractor activities. These activities ranged from games to aerobic activity.

In this experiment, this technique was the only one used as means of instruction for a national curriculum Biology course.   “Remarkably, learning at a greatly increased speed and in a pattern that included deliberate distraction produced significantly higher scores than random answers and scores were not significantly different for experimental groups (one hour spaced learning) and control groups (four months teaching).” Additionally, the researchers commented that, “experimental subjects acquired long-term memories of complex material as required by England’s national curriculum in one hour (Click Here to Watch Video on this technique in an actual classroom), apparently adjusting easily to Spaced Learning’s very intense learning and exceptional speed of delivery of the Biology courses.”

The pattern in a math class could look like this:

  1. Learn new math skill
  2. Ten minutes of jumping jacks, running in place, or silent speedball.
  3. Practice new math skill
  4. Ten minutes of walking outside.
  5. Apply new math skill

As unconventional as this may sound, it works. Dr Field’s even commented that he uses this himself when he is learning anything new, “I apply this to learning to the time in my own life and it works.”

He continued on and reported, “For example, in mastering a difficult piece of music on the guitar, I practice, then I do something else for ten minutes, and then I practice again (and so on).”[3]

“Spaced Learning works because it deploys neuroscientific research, which enables this process to take place very quickly – quickly enough to cover and retain a whole subject module’s content in approximately an hour.”

 This is truly  a revolution in educational research! Please let me know what you think on the comments below!


[1] Kelley, P., & Whatson, T. (2013). Making long-term memories in minutes: A spaced learning pattern from memory research in education. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from

[2] Carpenter, S., Cepeda, N., Rohrer, D., Kang, S., & Pashler, H. (2012). Using Spacing to Enhance Diverse Forms of Learning: Review of Recent Research and Implications for Instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 24(3), 369-378.

[3] Coyle, D. (2012). The little book of talent: 52 tips for improving skills (p. 74). New York, NY: Bantam Books.

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  1. I think that 10 minutes is to long a time to rest. A minute or two is plenty. How can you get any learning done in a 45 minute class if half the class isn’t doing any learning?


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