Kia ora! I'm Blair. I design fun, educational tools that help people take action.

Practice makes perfect

Blair wrote this on 24 Jul

Learning a skill (know-how) is different to learning information, or facts and figures (know-what). To learn (or get better at) a skill you need to practise. In fact, this is the only way to get better.

For example, you only get better at riding a bike by trying, failing, and changing what you tried previously until you succeed. It’s all about practice.

It also helps to see someone who can already ride a bike give a demonstration and be there to give you feedback and tips. This person is an expert / a member of a community of practice.

Receiving more and more information about a skill will not make you any better at the skill. Memorising some of the laws of physics involved with bike riding will not help you. Neither will learning about who invented the bicycle or some of the popular bicycle brands.

The same is true for any skill. Fire fighting, cake baking, shirt ironing, parallel parking a car, writing a letter, building a website, following a business process, and serving a customer properly can only be learnt by practicing.

Now, think about how you learnt your job.

  • Did you complete some elearning modules that gave you information followed by a quiz?
  • Or listen to a trainer give you information that was followed by a quiz?
  • Or maybe it was a webinar followed by a quiz?
  • Hopefully you didn’t just get an instructional manual (yes, followed by a quiz).

Unless you practised with guidance from an expert, you weren’t actually getting better at your job. You weren’t learning the skills you needed. You were memorising information and doing a short-term memory test.

Is this a good idea? No.

It is a waste of time and resources? Yes.

It is what most corporate training looks like? Unfortunately, yes.


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