Wednesday, July 02, 2008

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Walking the tightrope ...

This blog could well have been entitled 'the chicken or the egg?' - for I want to talk about the order of things, in terms of how we acquire new skills. Again, I am flying in the face of mainstream thinking here but the vast amount of empirical data/experience that I have acquired overs the years tells me that what I am about to suggest is absolutely the way it really works - read on ...
If we want to learn how to do something new - like, walk a tightrope for example - we will need to have/acquire a new kind of balance right? I mean, it's a tightrope - it's not going to be easy! When I look around at teaching models the world over, far and away the most common approach is to try to wait until you have this new set of 'balancing skills' before you tsrat practicing on the tightrope. This can work - eventually.
In my experience though, I more often see it unfold the other way around ... it's when we get on the tightrope and try to walk it, that our brain says ... 'Oh, you need THOSE kind of skills, THAT kind of balance ... no problem, here it is!'
In other words, we do the thing and THEN we learn the skills. I think this is true of many, many things. I see people Do 'property' - and after they have DONE it, they then learn more and understand more about doing it - about what it is they have done. I think that the UNDERSTANDING comes after the DOING.
In the world of BJJ for example - I don't wait until my students have 'sticky hooks' before I teach them a swag of 'hooking sweeps' - they learn the sweeps and then they GET the sticky hooks. The way I see it, we have to let our mind/body machine know clearly what it is we want by the DOING before it will provide us with the necessary skills to do it.
I hope this makes sense to everyone - it is pre-dawn here right now, I just arose this morning very early to get this and a few other bits and pieces done before the sun gets up and the serious part of the day is underway.
Best wishes all - I hope this gets you thinking.
Final words - to borrow the nike catchphrase ...
JUST DO IT!

JBW

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1 Comments

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I love your blogs John, glad I found your site! As someone going into education I couldn't agree with your more. I have been a fan of educational psychology for quite some time, and there is a ton of evidence that supports learning by observation and learning by doing. Simple yes, but when learning a new skill it's often best acquired when it's broken down and the student actually does the task. Results will come much faster this way than if one were to read about it for days, then go on to try many supplemental movements. Its better to really "just do it"
great blog John

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