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Posts Tagged ‘practice’

I think this is an interesting topic in the world of accelerated learning.  Most people learn by trial and error.  They really have not formal education on how to learn.  The question is, “is learning a skill like everything else that can be taught?”

One of the more interesting ways to learn how to learn is to try to teach something.  When you do this, you have to struggle with why others aren’t learning what you’re teaching or it doesn’t stick very long. 

Part of it is understanding your own learning style so you can productively work on learning something.  For example, I know people who need to write things down to understand and remember something while others need to actually see a demonstration.  So if this isn’t part of the way the teacher teaches than can you translate it for yourself.

I also think there are a lot of trick and techniques for things like taking tests, writing papers and even studying.  They aren’t always one size fits all, but they’re a start.   I remember when I was in school that there were two types of kids that got good grades.  One group that really studied hard and spent a lot of time going over things.  The other group didn’t study much at all but seem to do well.  I think they knew something the other kids didn’t.  Because of the school I went to, you can rule out difference in IQs or even social background.  They were very similar and at the higher end. 

My guess is that one group did things the hard way and the other group had learned how to learn. 

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So what’s a picture of Mike Tyson have to do with education anyway?

 Mike Tyson is a great philosopher.  He said, “Everyone’s got a plan…until they get hit!”

All the practice and role plays in a classroom setting try to prepare you for real life but it’s simply not the same.  The first time you try out your new customer service skills on an angry customer is just like being hit for the first time.  That’s when the real learning starts or people say, “that classroom stuff just doesn’t work, I’m going to try something else.”

Even as simulations get better, you don’t have the same level of pressure that comes with first hand experience.  What I recommend is that whatever you do in the classroom needs to extend to live practice.  This live practice also needs good coaching to help push through the potential loss of confidence with the first problem or crisis.

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I think most of us would agree that practice is the main element in becoming truly proficient at anything.  Think about anything you’re really good at.  How much practice time have you spent?

However, practice alone often won’t get you there.  Here’s my evidence.  Have you ever gone to a driving range and watched people hit golf balls.  The majority of those people will never really get much better and only about 1% will really get it and be able to shoot in the 70s.

A certain amount of the formula is aptitude especially for something physical.  As they say in basketball, we can teach you a jump shot but we can’t teach you to be tall. 

What’s missing is the coaching and a practice routing that puts you on the right track and gives you the feedback you need.  A lot of people can’t actually feel what’s happening on their backswing.  They might think they have a long slow backswing when it’s actually short and fast.

So if you translate this to business tasks like selling or presentations what does this mean?  The path to proficiency is practice with coaching and feedback. 

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How much practice does it really take to learn something new?  In the class room, you learn how to make a sales call and then do a few role plays.  Is that enough practices?  In reality, it can take several hundred calls before you can get good at a new sales technique.  However, this is seldom part of the training plan.  You can really speed up training by finding out how many pratice repetitions are needed and then build them into the training.

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