Posted by: lindapemik | December 13, 2010

Purposeful practice

Don’t you just love this Web 2.0 learning thing?  I do.  You never quite know where you are going to end up on any given day, or who you are going to discover when you start exploring your collection of bookmarks and Google Reader feeds.  This weekend I ended up on Jim Knight’s blog, Radical Learners.  I’m not quite sure how I got there but I know it started with following some links discovered through my growing learning network.  I liked a lot of what I read on this site (even shared some of them with my Facebook friends) but the concept that really got my attention was what he wrote about the concept of purposeful practice. Knight writes (paraphrased):

What separates the good from the average, and the great from the good is a particular kind of practice–purposeful practice.  This kind of practice only happens when we (a) get really clear on very specific areas we need to improve, (b) choose to step outside our comfort zone and make attempts that challenge us to get better in those specific areas, and (c) gather data on how well we are doing at improving in those specific areas.

All of us, whatever we do, have the chance to get much better if we choose to do purposeful practice. Purposeful practice, by definition, takes us out of our comfort zone. In our first attempts we will feel uncomfortable both because of the experience of truthfully confronting reality and by struggling to do things we’ve never done before. But staying in our comfort zone and sleeping on the job is an unrewarding alternative.

The real reward of teaching is to become better, to learn, and to prompt and inspire our students in their learning. We won’t have that experience, perhaps the most rewarding part of teaching, if we choose sleep through the many chances we have to learn every day.

I think many of us can relate to these ideas, particularly in our teaching and learning.  It is so much easier to stay in our comfort zones; to avoid the discomfort and potentially embarrassing moments of learning and applying new tools and techniques in our teaching. Learning in eci831  pushed me beyond my comfort zone at times; however, in looking back it was those moments of frustration and discomfort that pushed me to a higher level of understanding and performance.  Was it worth it?  Yes, indeed!



  1. Someone forwarded me your blog, and I want you to know how grateful I am for you spreading the word. Thanks so much, Jim


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