Learning to learn.

This article was written by Frank Proctor – a teacher at Dancesport Kingdom.

Learning

It is quite a distance from my home to work and after many years of listening to the radio and to music while travelling I decided to try a podcast.

After navigating my way through the not so difficult steps I was rewarded with a vast array of interesting topics to satisfy anybody with a thirst for knowledge and or entertainment.

I would like to share with you a recent podcast that I enjoyed.

The episode was called “Learning to Learn” and featured an interview with the author “Ulrich Boser” about his latest book: “Learning Better”. The author discusses different ways to improve our learning and also debunks some of the myths about learning.

There are several concepts that were discussed that interested me. Early on in the discussion Ulrich Boser talks about the best way to learn an activity such as soccer, and that for a physical activity the best way to learn was to do the activity. He elaborates that by watching or reading about such an activity, one can only learn so much. Quite often though, doing the activity is not enough. Many of us drive everyday but we don’t get better and better at it. This is because we are doing it automatically. It is only when we are deeply engaged in the skill or subject that we learn and improve. Ulrich Boser called this type of learning “Deep Processing”. This is where the student is engaging fully in the subject, immersing themselves in the experience and concentrating hard on every detail. I likened it to an accomplished dancer who goes back or revisits some really basic steps or figures, relearning them in exquisite detail, examining every nuance and movement.

In another part of the program the writer talks about a concept called “Interweaving”. This is where the subject practises a variety of similar skills in a session instead of just one skill. For instance, a piano pupil may practise some Classical, Pop and Jazz in the one session. While this sort of practise is actually harder, the learning from it is more beneficial. I immediately thought of the system of teaching at Dancesport Kingdom, where we learn all three styles of dance over a 10 week period. At first, the students find it difficult, but as time goes on they advance faster.

The last concept related directly to me, and it deserves a quote: “One of the most effective ways to learn is to teach others.” – Ulrich Boser.
Here, the author discussed how teaching brings another layer to our understanding. If I am teaching I need not only to know my subject, but also how best to impart that knowledge to my students. To do that requires knowing the student, understanding what difficulties they may face and what errors they are likely to make. A great teacher will know the little tips that can make a big difference.

Frank Proctor

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For anyone who would like to listen to the whole podcast, it was broadcast on the ABC program called : “All in the Mind” on the 7th of May 2017. The transcript is also available on the ABC website.

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