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KnowCanDo… wassatallabout?

Know: use good metaphors
I believe that the best learning takes place in a safe and simulated environment. The notion that people learn best on-the-job or learn-by-doing is, at best, overrated and, at worst, reinforces mediocrity. I believe that we humans learn best when we experience through “vicarious” examples and things that mimic the “real things,” without the stigma associated with real situations.

Sports teams and musicians practice in simulated environments far more than they perform in real life. It is the practice that allows them to excel despite the butterflies in their stomachs. The metaphors they live and imagine through daily practice enable them to succeed in a variety of situations that are each unique.

Can: slow down and chunk
Before you do anything successfully, you need to believe that you can do it. The goal of learning is to be able to take more effective action; but the key to taking the next step is to believe that you know which way to go. Humans strive to learn so that we can be confident that the next step is a good one.

The best way to learn so that our confidence builds is to slow down and break things into chunks that are easier than the whole. This sounds easy. But when we are dealing with the unknown, it is a very difficult task. But if you can successfully break up a problem or task into 1) parts you know that you know, 2) parts you know that you don’t know, and 3) parts you don’t have any clue about, then you are well on your way to solving the problem.

Do: do what you learn
I know I said in the first paragraph that learn-by-doing is overrrated reinforces mediocrity, but the reverse is not so. This is not merely a semantic exercise, but forcing someone to learn basketball through just playing games is unlikely to enable the person to excel. But if the same person practices every day and never plays in a game, he is unlikely ever to develop real skills. But the games in which we encourage the player to play are always a part of the learning experience. They are not intended to be the bigger-than-life, winner-takes-all nature of the Super Bowl or the Champions League.

So there you have it, in a nutshell: my core tenets for effective learning programs. KnowCanDo. And if you would prefer an educational program that is based on a series of lectures in a classroom, where the students are expected to take notes and preform well on exams, then my response is: No-can-do!

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