Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

October 9, 2011

How We Master Skills



     The 2011-2012 school year is well under way.

     Many persons ascribe to the fact that learning must be fast-paced and fun. Many students rebel against rote, repetitious, learning and the practice sessions that are required for internalizing learning. Here is a different point of view:

     The key component of mastery experiences, apparently, is not so much the mastery as the effort it took to get there. As our brains develop the memory of a particular skill, they literally transform to hone the behavior so that we get better at it. But it is only through repetition and practice—practice, practice—that those pathways form, making certain actions or knowledge automatic and freeing up more of our brains for things like critical analysis, quick reaction, and that mystery we call inspiration.

     “Cognitive neuroscience, in other words,…*

     Certainly there must be a balance between the absolute tyranny of rote learning and having every learning experience based on fun—life is not like that. Presenting disciplined learning in innovative ways is certainly not dismissable. However, allowing talented students to quit learning of a skill based on the need to repetitively practice is not a wise path to follow. They miss the rewards of success gained by that discipline, and don’t gain the skill of self-discipline through just sitting down and practicing.

     This is demonstrated in a writing quote I recently encountered: A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.**


*Behind Every Breakthrough, Paige P. Parvin,

**Richard Bach



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