When you’re learning a skill, it’s important to have a great teacher and to be a great student. Both are necessary for building skill quickly and effectively. But…
You can only maximize one side of the exchange: the student side.
The problem is that, in America, learning tends to be something that “happens to you.” In school, the teacher teaches and the student plays a passive role in the process (you forget most of the information because you never engaged it in the first place).
If you’ve ever taught someone internal martial arts in any capacity, you may have run into this. People often start training internal martial arts with an expectation: you teach me, the information washes over me, I pass a test. Now I’m a skilled martial artist!
So how do you avoid this passive role and become a bigger part in your own learning process? There are lots of ways to learn better, but there’s a quick and easy method that is simple and effective.
Learn the art of asking good questions.
Good questions are a great way to draw out information from your instructor. Asking good questions saves you time and helps your instructor to articulate obscure concepts (ever run into an obscure concept in your training?).
So here’s a quick and simple method for asking the best questions in order to get the most out of your instructor.
- Figure out what you know.
- Figure out what you don’t know.
- Tell the instructor what you know, then ask a very specific questions about what you don’t know.
This may not be earth shattering, but the approach is powerful. When you know what you know and tell this to your instructor, you help your instructor avoid telling you things you already know. Doing this helps you and your instructor parse down exactly what you need help with at that moment.
If you’ve done the first two steps, you’ve already done a lot of thinking on your own that your instructor didn’t have to do for you. Sometimes you even answer your own questions. The point is that taking a moment to clarify what you know and what you don’t know means you shave off the fluff from your question and get right down to what you need. Your instructor (I promise you) has a much easier time answering clear questions like this compared to vague fuzzy questions that are difficult to follow.
Also, when you ask questions, you engage what’s going on and you automatically start learning faster. Your brain is engaging the material, searching through your knowledge base, and generating questions. Psychologists call this called “priming”. The gist? You will automatically start learning faster just by thinking of really good questions to ask. Even if you don’t get an answer, the process primes you for learning.
So give it a shot. Follow the three steps and see what happens next time in class. If you’re an instructor, try teaching this approach to your students and see if the questions you get back are better than before.
One of the biggest criticisms of long distance training is that you can’t ask your teacher questions.
Of course this isn’t exactly true.
Just hit reply and ask about any of our training.
Or better yet log into our online forums and ask there. Not only can you get answers and insight from a variety of skilled folks you can also see the questions others have asked and benefit from them as well.
All our online courses include access to member only forums for Q&A.
If you’re not yet a member of Clear’s Tai Chi Online go check it out.