Monday, April 2, 2012

Active learning

Tonight I went to help judge another one of my dojo's quarterly belt testings. In between the two tests scheduled tonight I wound up talking to a fellow black belt about the test we had just watched.

The first test was not one of the better ones, and we talked about the habit of "passive learning."

Several of our students watch things happening right in front of them, but it's like they're zoning out in front of the TV - the information washes over them and they're not absorbing or questioning it. I can see them looking at other people but they're not trying to learn anything.

I wrote a post here about being spoon-fed information, but this is something different. When people wait to be spoon-fed, they are choosing not to learn until someone teaches them something. As bad as that is, at least they're being active in their choice...although choosing to be lazy isn't a good choice!

What we're seeing this time is people only learning when they're being talked to directly. Unfortunately, we're not able to teach people like that all the time. We often address the entire class, giving general advice about the most prevalent issues, and I like to think people are learning from it, but the passive learners don't seem to get it. Why?

Now I'm not going to accuse any of you of being passive learners, but when you're at a practice and something is being shown or taught - but not directly to you - are you still trying to learn from it?

Paying attention should be more than just looking in the direction of who's talking, right? After a practice, try some mental exercises to see if you really were paying attention. Did someone else in class get comments? What were they? Do those comments apply to you as well? Even if they don't, it's the process of listening in the first place that's the point here.

Why waste time staring when you could take a tiny bit of effort and turn it into learning? It's just about being aware of the habits we easily slip into so we can do better!

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