Monday, June 27, 2011

Having Fun in Learning Skills

If you are a student, or if you are interested in acquiring more knowledge, you can gain inspiration from the game of Darts. Darts is a game similar to archery, only that you throw darts at a target. See the picture below:

It is easy to train in Darts. Perhaps this is because it is a game (unlike serious academic study). The objectives are clearly defined. It is easy to evaluate yourself. You can see the results immediately. It is another matter if you give up, if you get discouraged when you dont hit the target. You may hit the target:
a) most of the time
b)only sometimes
c)not at all

If you keep yourself focused on the target, it is quite possible to hit the target a reasonable number of times. It's a guarantee. Perhaps the time for learning varies from person to person.

This is a skill that you can learn.

We all need many skills to move forward in life. Career skills, educational skills, social skills, relaxation skills, anger skills (to manage and use your anger constructively).

People find it hard to train in learning skills and academic subjects. The reasons which would be obvious from the above Darts example are:
  • Objective is not clearly defined
  • Lack of sight of objective
  • Outcome not visible or measurable
  • Giving up too soon (lack of repetition)
Based on the above, we could use a learning methodology for learning any subject with the least trouble, actually with fun. (We will consider an example later)

This is the outline of the method:
  • Identify the skill to learn
  • Break it down into various objectives (sub skills)
  • Define ideal outcome for each sub skill
  • Learn the sub skills, one at a time.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  • Combined application of the learnt skills in more complex activities
Example: Learning to Drive with Fun!
We break down the composite skill of Driving into several components. Examples are: Gears, Starting the vehicle engine, Traffic signs etc.
Now we break down these component skills into their sub skills:
Sub skills:
  • Knowledge of gear positions
  • Practice shifting gear on a stationary car
  • Learning when gears are to be changed (e.g-1st gear is for bumpy road, uphill road, slow speeds,...)
b)Shifting to 1st gear from neutral when the vehicle engine is running

c)Starting the engine:
  • Turn gear to neutral
  • Turn ignition on
  • Change into 1st gear
  • Press Accelerator very slightly (for some cars)
  • Release the clutch gently (requires levering your foot on the heel, and controlling the force)
Similarly, the rest of the skills for driving can be broken down into smaller sub skills. While actually starting to drive, we can use these skills, combined. 

If we spent time learning specific skills, then it would be easier to recall them for their combined application, in actual situations. This can help avoid the terror and trauma involved in learning new skills. The trauma occurs because learners are expected to learn all skills at the same time, or in a very short time, with instructors having little patience. Most of us would have experienced this situation while learning how to drive, with an instructor.

How was your experience of learning how to drive? Was it fun? Or was it traumatic like mine?

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