Patient development of conceptual understanding

<true confession>

Sometimes I teach at my pace instead of the pace of the learners in my care.

<tragic>

To where am I racing?

Rule Three from The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle is SLOW IT DOWN.

“Why does slowing down work so well? The myelin model offers two reasons.  First, going slow allows you to attend more closely to errors, creating a higher degree of precision with each firing – and when it comes to growing myelin, precision is everything.  As football coach Tom Martinez likes to say ‘It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slowly you can do it correctly.’ Second, going slow helps the practitioner to develop something even more important: a working perception of the skill’s internal blueprint – the shape and rhythm of the interlocking skill circuits.”  (p. 85)

In her Shortest Path post, Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) asks:

How many of our students would choose a beautiful path over the shortest path to learn a new topic? Which of our students would always choose the shortest path over a happier path to learn a new topic?

I wonder how many learners would choose a beautiful path over the shortest path.  Listen to Daniele Quercia.

I have a confession to make. As a scientist and engineer, I’ve focused on efficiency for many years. But efficiency can be a cult, and today I’d like to tell you about a journey that moved me out of the cult and back to a far richer reality.

What is lost by the time we save being efficient?

How might we take up the challenge of teaching and learning procedural fluency through patient development of conceptual understanding? What if I can show what I know in more than one way is deemed essential to learn?

What if we guide our learners on a journey that offers beauty, understanding, quiet, more time, and then efficiency?

Let’s avoid the dangers of a single path. Choose patient development of beautiful paths to conceptual understanding.

It is not an impossible dream.

Be patient.

Learn.


Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born : It’s Grown, Here’s How. New York: Bantam, 2009. 217.  Print.

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