It really stinks to jump into the deep end of the pool and not be able to swim. I almost drowned. I thought I was prepared. Really! I am serious. I looked at the pictures in the book, Learn How to Swim in 4 Easy Strokes. I read all the content with full comprehension. I even watched a 20 minute video. I was ready! Opps. I missed something very important. The DOING part of learning.
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe not swimming, but what about a new way of doing something. In the theory of learning there are multiple ways to learn and to retain the learning in your memory. The type of learning I needed to engage in to be able to swim is called procedural learning or experiential learning. I had to “do” it to learn it. This was how we learned to do most everything when we were youngsters. Riding a bike, learning to walk, driving a car are mastered by doing. The cool thing about this type of learning is it sticks with us in our procedural memory.
Procedural memory holds both cognitive and motor skills in our long-term memory. There is implicit memory and explicit memory. Implicit memory is without conscious awareness. Think about driving a car. Do you tell yourself, “open the door, and turn on the key, step on the gas, look in the mirror??” Or do you hop in the car and head off to the grocery store while thinking about what you are going to cook for dinner? Do you remember when you first learned to drive? I remember I had to think hard about what my body was doing. I recall that both my brain and my body were fully engaged in mastering my driving skill. Explicit memory is when you make an effort to recall something like a math formula or the time of you dental appointment. You can explain what is in your explicit memory. Explicit memory is called declarative memory.
Our brain and body are designed to learn in multiple modes such as verbally, numerically, visually as well as kinesthetically and auditor ally. Habits are behaviors we have learned and are held in long-term implied memory. Habits are hard to change without engaging purposeful practice of chosen behaviors. Purposeful is with awareness and focus when you mindfully turn your attention toward a desired behavior. One of the opportunities to create desired change is with therapy or coaching. You can practice doing something different through experiential learning.
As a lifelong-learner and committed to improving my skills as a therapist am coach I make a point to participate in educational opportunities where I can “do” the new skills with another person. Same for how I present training to people in workshops. Procedural learning is not a new concept. Aristotle stated, “One must learn by doing the thing, for though, you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” Roger Schank, who is a leading expert on artificial intelligence, wrote, “Life requires us to do more than it requires is to know, in order to function. There is only one effective way to teach someone to do anything, and that is to let them do it.” To master learning by doing is to do it again, again and again. There you have it, “3 Steps to Master Learning by Doing.
How do you best learn?
- Explicit and Implicit Memory (healthymemory.wordpress.com)
- Adding Movement to a Mental Rehearsal Improves Performance (psychologytoday.com)
(c) 2014 Brenda Bomgardner