How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice isn’t enough, says Anders Ericsson, known for the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert. In his new book, Peak, Ericsson explains how to practice to be awesome, writes cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham in a rave review.
The key to achieving awesomeness is “deliberate” practice, writes Willingham, summarizing the book. Three points stand out for me:
- It’s for skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques exist.
- You typically work on one small aspect of the skill when you practice.
- It requires meaningful feedback, and meaningful response to the feedback.
For example, to create better doctors, “the medical field needs to identify experts in each field, figure out what underlies their superior performance, and develop the logical steps to build those mental representations in novices.”
Every year, nearly 27,000 teacher preparation programs turn out 200,000 would-be teachers, Bellwether notes. Yet there’s no evidence that preparation requirements — licensure tests, grade or SAT minimums, student teaching hours and performance assessments — guarantee effective teachers.
It’s also not clear how to help experienced teachers develop their skills, the report found. “At every stage of a teacher’s career we simply don’t know how to help her improve.”
Doug Lemov focuses on improving teaching practice in Teach Like a Champion. Is this the way to greatness?