I”ve advocated, repeatedly, the importance of practice. Yet, too often, we still see an ‘event’-based model, where it’s one and done. Unfortunately, this doesn’t align with how our brains work! I was looking at one of Elevator 9‘s Liftology videos (caveat: I did the original scripting), where they mentioned ‘practice like we play’. I’d heard it before (in various incarnations), but this time it struck me that perhaps it’s the right vehicle to penetrate complacency about learning design. Should we emphasize “we play as we practice”?
The underlying phenomena is that we need lots of practice, for two reasons. For one, the ‘learning’ mechanism that strengthens our learning can only do so much before it needs sleep. If you want to truly develop a skill, sufficient practice, over time, is required. It’s like building muscle, or training for a sport; occasional practice isn’t sufficient. The right practice, repeated and improved over time, is necessary.
The other is that we are very context sensitive. That is, our consciousness is very much influenced by where and how things are happening. If you want to successfully generate transfer to many different situations (such as sales, or negotiation, or…things that happen in many different contexts with different people and different goals and…), you need sufficient practice across contexts. Our brain abstracts across the contexts seen to determine the space of transfer. Thus, we need widely varied practice to generate a generalized ability to do.
Yet, too often, we see people getting it right ‘once’, and thinking that’s enough. It might be sufficient to tick a box, but it’s not sufficient to generate a new ability. The problem is, there’s a lot of pressure against this. Folks don’t want to take the time and money, they want to believe that new information will yield a behavior change, it’s just too hard!
So, I’m wondering if rethinking the messaging will help. If we emphasize that what we do is dependent on what we practice, maybe we can get away from the school mentality of ‘study, pass test, forget’. We want to get to the ‘practice practice practice to be good enough to play’ mentality.
I don’t know if “we play as we practice” is the best vehicle, or even one, but I’m kinda desperate, I guess. I’m very very tired of folks not getting that meaningful change requires sustained effort. And I’m really looking for a solution. It seems like this might tap into some useful mental frameworks. Can this help? If not, do you have a better solution? Please?
This blog was originally published on Learnlets.