Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everybody Needs Fluency!

By Luca Canever

How many times, during our lives, have we been told to "Pay attention"? At school, driving our cars, playing sports, at work, at home or crossing the streets. The world is constantly demanding our attention. The problem is that we shouldn't pay attention… At all!

D. Eagleman, in his book "Incognito, The Secret Lives of the Brain", wrote:
When athletes make mistakes, coaches typically yell: 'Think out there!' The irony is that a professional athlete's goal is NOT to think. The goal is to invest thousands of hours of practice so that in the heat of the battle the right maneuvers will come automatically, with no interference from consciousness. The skills need to be pushed down into the players' circuitry. When athletes ‘get into the zone’, their well-trained unconscious machinery runs the show, rapidly and efficiently.  Imagine a basketball player standing at the free throw line. The crowd yells and stomps to distract him. If he's running on conscious machinery, he's certain to miss. Only by relying on the overtrained, robotic machinery can he hope to drain the ball through the basket".
In my webinar "How the Brain Learns" I discussed some of the mechanisms used by the brain to learn. In this next webinar we will explore how the brain uses the learned information to attain that which should be the goal of every learning experience: Fluency. As Eagleman writes fluency allows us to perform difficult tasks even in noisy and distractive environments. We don't have to think about our behaviors. We, simply perform them. We don't think which muscles and joints we use when we walk. Try this experiment: stand up and take few steps forward, naming - or paying attention - to each single movement. Your performance will be poor and extremely slow. We don't pay attention, but we can walk to the kitchen efficiently to have a glass of water.

Fluency allows us to pay attention only to the new things: potential new threats or new reinforcers. All the rest runs smoothly, controlled by many other brain circuitries whose workings are largely unknown (do you have to think to breathe?).

How do we become fluent? The answer is rather simple: we need to practice. The more we practice the more we become fluent. But, practice is not just the repetition of an action. Deliberated Practice (as Dr. K. Anders Ericsson named it) is purposeful, with clear goals, and precise settings. It requires a great amount of self-sacrifice and great self-control to engage in this kind of practice. But, if you want to play with the Seattle Seahawks this is the only way. Obviously genes matter and if you're tall you will have more chance of playing for the Lakers. But, as we'll see genes aren't enough by themselves. You have to master the component skills of your discipline, put them together in complex behaviors and merge the behavior in stunning performances. AND, above all you have to find the practice reinforcing to keep going.

TAGteach is the perfect methodology to give us the reinforcing practice we deserve to explore our talents, and during the webinar we'll see how TAGteach methodology fits well in the theoretical scaffold scientists are discovering. We'll visit also some Renaissance painter's shops. Leonardo needed fluency to paint his Mona Lisa.

Click here to register for Luca's upcoming webinar: Fluency - Who Needs It? (Apr 10, 2014 3-4 PM EDT)

Register for the Fluency Webinar and you will get a 25% discount coupon for the recorded webinar: How the Brain Learns (not applicable on top of the member discount)


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