Practice Makes Perfect?

Many people use the phrase "Practice makes perfect" to depict the process of learning. Ulrich Bose pointed out that this is a remarkably ill-defined expression. Does practice mean endless repetition? Does practice involve feedback and reflection? Should practice be hard or fun?

Learning is a complex process. A growing body of research has shown that practice alone is not enough. We also need learning strategies. We need to be smarter with the practices by designing and utilizing strategies. Many research studies have consistently suggested that learners are not born but made. We are ALL able to be good at something through the dedicated practices and constantly refined strategies.

Research is making it clear that when it comes to become expertise, learning strategies can be more critical than raw smarts. Marcel Veenman found that people who closely track thinking and continuously reflect learning will outperform those with high IQ levels in terms of learning new things. His research also revealed that focusing on how we understand is 15 percent more important than innate intelligence when it comes to develop mastery. Learners are made, not born. IQ is not the only answer, EQ has to be concerned and actively be engaged in the learning process.

Areté has been strategically employing emotional intelligence in our after-school programs. Emotional Intelligence simply denotes being smarter with feelings. We provide students ample opportunities to understand emotions, to develop self-awareness and to reflect about their learning. By being smarter with feelings, students are able to identify their thinking, feeling and action patterns in learning, design and refine learning strategies and adjust the practices accordingly. Through this iteration process, they gradually get better at learning.

We do not simply urge students to practice and practice all the time because we believe practice is not enough for making perfect. We help them to learn smartly by employing strategies. We believe it is not enough to give them fish, but more importantly, teach them how to fish.

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