Thursday, August 20, 2009

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The Immersive Experience


Much of our serious learning takes place when we gorge ourselves on information in deep learning environments or situations. When we really sink our teeth into a subject, when we ‘live’ the experience rather than just brushing up against it, we take ownership of new skills.
This is one thing that is nice about overseas training; without the distractions of everyday life, answering the phone, making a living, etc – we can fully immerse ourselves in the learning experience. Whether it’s surfing, learning a new language or training in BJJ, by immersing ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in the experience we open ourselves up to the possibility of real and dramatic gains.
To a degree the same sort of thing can be experienced during a training seminar situation. Certainly when I conduct/deliver seminars I try to pick one or two topics and fully immerse the class in that subject matter. In a normal class situation this is more difficult to do, and usually we only have time for one or two techniques and then it’s time to wrestle or spar. During a two or three hour seminar though, I always try to pick a topic – and systematically develop the idea from a wide variety of angles and in as much depth as is practical. Ideally, everyone walks away with a deeper understanding of the subject matter; and even more ideally, with the type of understanding that may well spill over into other areas – giving the participant more bang for their learning buck.
Immersive learning is natural for us; we make big gains quickly when we drop ourselves deeply into a subject. Learning a new language at school is one thing; living for a month or two in a foreign country, and even better, in a part of that country where no-one speaks your language, you tend to pick up the local lingo pretty quickly. When we need to, when we have focus and desire, we learn effortlessly and quickly. Opening ourselves up to the concept of deep immersion is something that some may find difficult at first; but like most new endeavours, the first time is usually the most difficult.
Just know, that as far as I see it, anyone, anywhere that has excelled at any skill, has at one time or another, immersed themselves deeply in their given subject matter. Just brushing up against something is very much better than zero-exposure but don’t expect extraordinary results.
JBW

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