Taking Steps to Improve the Learning Process

I lied about the “tomorrow, we’ll learn how to actually solve problems.”  Sorry about that.

The Key to solving problems is knowing where to look.  You did that with Step #3–circling the mistake.  Problems come in 2 forms:  Single step and Multi step.  Single step problems are very important.  “OHHHH!  If I take a Left at Riverside instead of at Dockside, I save 1 stoplight and that 1 lane bridge!”  Its vs. It’s…His, Hers, Its…He’s, She’s, It’s.  Placing your weight over your toe instead of your heel keeps you on pointe longer, practice that in ballet flats first at the barre in warm-ups.  Once you have solved a lot of single step problems, you can use these single steps to combine to solve more involved problems.  It’s (notice the correct form of it!) like math.  You learn to add, then subtract then multiply then divide…  You go to the restaurant to order take-out.  You order 3 2-topping pizzas and you check your wallet.  Now your brain does this:  3 pizzas at $X is this much.  Do I have that much in my wallet?  Now you’ve used multiplication and subtraction.  Then you think to yourself, “What do I charge the 5 people I’m getting the pizzas for?  And do I add my gas for the trip?”  You don’t think anything about solving a problem like that.  It’s easy.

How do I pass my certification test then?  Huh?  Huh?  It’s HARD!  Well of course it is.  You will find that in many professions, these certification tests and bar tests do nothing but wash out those who they think unworthy of consideration.  That’s harsh.  They design the test in order to see how well you test, not what you know on the subject material.  You saw that correctly.  If the test is computer generated, they have to adjust the questions so there are no essays for some professor or grader to read and evaluate.  What does this mean?  It means that in order to understand the nuances of whatever subject you’re being tested on, you would have to have essay questions, and since they can’t have essays, they will go with vague, badly worded, confusing and ambiguous questions in order to see if you know how to read a question.  There was 1 test that had answers A, B, C and D and then I: A and B, II:  A and C, III: B and C, IV: B and D V: All of the above.  They could have asked the tester, “What should you do in this event?” and have him/her answer in 25 words or less.  But NOOOOO!  So at first glimpse, you’d think that studying the material would be the solution to passing the test.  The reality is studying the questions, taking lots of tests with those types of answers to learn their “tells.”  Are they going to ask the question in a different way later in the test that might help you answer this question?  Given a choice between choosing 2 good answers and all of the above, which one do they do the most often?  Do they ever have none of the above answers?

As a music major, the test was in sight singing and ear training and music theory.  Sight singing teaches pitch memory and relational movement.  Ear training is the reverse, it teaches you to recognize movement from note to note, from chord to chord and categorizing patterns into recognizable forms.  The tests were like this:  They play a recording of a song and give you a starting note.  You must write the notes that you hear: melody and bass lines.  When does a music teacher ever have to do this?  They read the music and usually play along on piano or some instrument.  Then they teach it to their classes.  Many many aspiring music majors are washed out of the program because they cannot do these requirements.  So how do you pass?  Step 1:  Can you recognize intervals and patterns when you hear them?  Can you tell the difference between up and down, and between 3rds and 4ths?  Step 2:  You listen and you write.  You will be bad at 1st, but the more that you listen, the better you’ll get.  Step 3:  Do you have particular problem following a bass line?  Can you stay in the same key in the melody line?  Can you sing in your head what you’ve written?  Step 4:  Listen and write, then compare to the written music, then do another one.  Start out with Bach Chorales, they have a particular formula.

How do I learn Romanian in 2 weeks?  Step 1:  Do you know any languages like Romanian? (Latin, Italian, Spanish)  Step 2:  Try it, Grab an English/Romanian dictionary and look at some key phrases.  Step 3:  You have a particular problem with grammar and tense.  Step 4:  Grab a Romanian Romance Novel, and read it.  Look up the words you don’t know.   Romance novels are typically written at the 5th-6th grade level, so once you’ve done some translating, you’ll begin to see patterns.  You have a particular problem with pronunciation.  Speak to a Romanian person and work 1 on 1 with a native.  There are also several computer programs that use native speakers to introduce the words and the grammar will be absolutely correct.

How do I pass the try out for the football team?  Step 1:  Have you played football in school?  Have you played a related game?  Are you familiar with the requirements of the position you’re trying out for?  Does it take upper body strength?  Do you have to run a certain minimum speed?  Do you have to be able to catch a ball in any situation?  Step 2:  Try it.  Play that position in a pick up game.  Talk to people that play that position, and ask them if you could work out with them.  Step 3:  Discover the areas of improvement–changing directions quickly, reaction time, seeing defensive (offensive) patterns.  Step 4:  For speed, add weight or resistance while running sprints.  For upper body strength, remember what you’ll be doing and work on exercises that emphasize precisely those motions.  If you’re a defensive player who needs tackling strength, lie on your back with arms outstretched on either side and with 10 pound weights do a quick “hug” and cross your body with the weights.  Gradually increase the weights.  When you’re out on the field, if anyone is foolish enough to get in your grasp, you will not only hug them to the ground, you might break a couple of ribs.  (Excuse the hyperbole.)

Do you see the pattern now?  So now you’re done improving your learning skills!  Aren’t you?  No, there’s 2 more steps.  You will like them though.

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