Taking Steps toward Improving the Learning Process

Hmmmm, no comments?  Sigh

We now have 5 steps:  1)  Identify what you know  2)  Make an attempt  3)  Circle your mistakes–determine what needs to be fixed/changed  4) Work on just the circles in isolation  5)  Integrate the circles back into the process and the LAST MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN THE LEARNING PROCESS IS…?  *Drum Roll*

Step 6)  ERASE THE CIRCLE.

That sounds so stupid.  Why is that the most important step?

Story time:  When I was in Junior High School, I had a down hill walk from the bus stop to my house that went past my friend’s house.  By letting me off there, the bus saved 2 turns and a stop sign, and I got to visit my friend and it was only 2 blocks from my house anyway.  They had an impressive growth of Russian Olive trees on the border of their property.  During the winter, if there was snow or ice, the trees blocked the sun so the ice/snow didn’t melt on the street and there were no sidewalks.  One day I was walking home and not paying attention, I slipped on the ice and landed hard on my tail bone.  It was really painful.  The next day,  when I got to that spot, I slid a bit, thinking that a controlled slide was better than a fall.  I fell again, and re-injured my tail bone.  The next day I went into the grass to avoid the icy spot.  I got snow in my shoes, and caked on the bottoms and when I got back onto the road, I fell again.  This time I bruised both my knees.  Luckily we had a weekend for me to recover, but it snowed that weekend.  I dreaded the walk home.  It was a short week and my friend was having a party on the last day of school so she and I and 2 others got off the bus at her stop, and walked to her house, laughing and telling stories.  I got to the bottom of the hill and was surprised that I hadn’t fallen!  What had changed?  I was distracted by my conversation and my mind didn’t yell loud enough, “HEY!!!!  This is the place you always fall down!!!”

In my numerous years of teaching and observing people, one of the things I run into is people say this out loud, “I always mess up there,” “I just can’t remember names,” “I’ll never tell those two apart!”  when they make a mistake.  They have effectively circled the mistake and practiced getting it wrong!  Why would you practice making a mistake?  The other thing I run into is those that get to the difficult part, make the mistake and then correct it.  So in a sense, they are practicing the correction and not actually solving the problem.  Why is this?  It is because in their minds, they have still not mastered what was in the circle nor integrated it into the process.  The brain is a weird instrument.  If you say out loud or to yourself, “Oh this is the part I always mess up…” then the brain adjusts its program so that, according to its new instructions, you do as you have planned and mess it up.  Then it pats itself on the back and says, “Good job Brain!  Another task faithfully carried out!”  Doh!

New programming is needed.  Upon coming to a circled area the brain will do one of 2 things.  It will register this place or action as a danger and move away from the training instead of using the training to go through this area.  Or it will shrug its “shoulders” and just push through without a problem, but in turn ignore other areas of concern and the circles will no longer be an effective way to improve.  Either way, what happens when you erase a circle is that you tell yourself, “I have solved this, and not only have I solved this, because I know that the hardest part of any endeavor is the one that sets you apart from the others striving for the same goal, and can be the most beautiful and cherished part, it is now my favorite part of this process.”  You actually relax when you get to this part and let your learned responses carry you through to the conclusion.  It is a wonderful feeling.

This brings me to the brain training aspect of the learning process.  I read Shad Helmstedder’s book, “What to say when you talk to yourself.”  I recommend it!  He has several self-talk scripts that he uses to reprogram your brain, and though I like them, I have some additional scripts that are shorter and more to the point.  When you mess up, there is a single word, a tiny word that you use.  It’s “oops.”  As I have said in earlier messages, making a mistake is not a character flaw.  It is not a failure.  If something doesn’t go the way you intended, instead of berating yourself and telling yourself that you “always” do such and so and that you’re such a “dummy” and that you don’t know what’s wrong with your mind, say this:  “Hummm.  Isn’t that interesting?” or something along those lines.  Then go about fixing the problem.  Work the steps, think through the processes, and learn something!

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