Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Martial Arts can Teach About Learning

Aside from my career as a mild-mannered multimedia and eLearning producer, video podcaster and business owner, in my not-so-copious free time I teach martial arts (we all have alter-egos, don't we?).

I bring this up not to surprise or have you cringing in fear, my face can do that all by itself, but to put in perspective a discipline that can help anyone learn anything they really want to. But more than that, one doesn't have to be a martial artist to be a good learner; discipline is really all that's needed!

In the martial arts one starts with the basics. This means you lean basic postures, movements, transitions between movements, body awareness, situational awareness and a lot of painful discipline (the art itself is not painful, it's the getting your body to do things it considers impossible)...

Basic method of teaching martial arts involves:
  • Concentration and focus
  • Repetition and lots of it - one cannot become good at the arts without a lot of practice. For those who have practiced a musical instrument, you know what I'm talking about. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes. And perfect is nothing more than making the difficult look easy.
  • Discipline - without discipline the practice would rapidly disintegrate into a severe ADHD moment and you would never achieve much. 
  • A goal - without a goal in mind, you won't be able to learn much in context or that's relevant. 
  • Intention - this is wher we apply a laser-like desire to make the "goal" happen through a lot of "practice" and "focus". Without intention you die (though the autonomic systems could keep you going for a bit, you basically croak!)

How are the above different from anything else we learn and do in life? Think about it...

Still thinking?

Think a little bit more?

Getting hungry? (the brain consumes a lot of energy when we think a lot. But don't worry, have a bite and then work out, you'll feel better!)

OK, all seriousness aside, the same things that make one a great martial artists also make you a great musician, writer, multimedia developer, graphic artist, doctor, actor, mathematician, etc. I left out politicians just because no one should be a career politician...

If you're a drummer and practice eight hours a day you will become a great drummer (not to mention get rid of all your aggression along the way - did I mention I used to drum too? :) ).

If you're a doctor, you need to know every part of the body and how systems tie together to keep one healthy.

If you're a teacher you practice your presentation skills and learn your materials so well that they become second-nature. Ah, that's a good point...

The whole purpose of the martial arts is to make the movements secnd-nature, effortless, with no though involved or needed. A great pianist plays with his or her soul, the mechanical part of the playing is so mastered that it becomes invisible, second-nature if you will.

Apply your intention to something and you give it life. If you're an eLearning developer, know your tools. How? By the same steps a martial artist, or anyone else for that matter, learns their "tools".

Without focus, practice, a goal and intention, mediocrity will always reign supreme. Give yourself the opportunity of becoming exceptional and you'll be on your way to becoming a very good martial artist.

Remember, becoming good at something is a struggle. If it were easy we'd all be masters, wouldn't we? Learn something new and get good at it. Before you know it, you'll be someone they all want answers from and you'll be a busy person hoping for a vacation one day...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Products and eLearning Communities

If you're in a community, don't suspend reality and become a "true believer". Enjoy the community but always stay focused on your needs as a developer or creator of content.  The community buss is one thing, but the reality is often another. As with all things, go in eyes wide open, brain turned on and with a purpose in mind. And if you're in a community, de-cloak every so often and get involved, share what you know or make valid criticisms so that we all get a better end product.