OPEN PDF TO VIEW & READ: ‘Practice Does Not Make Perfect‘ [Paul Burke’s M.I. TIP of the Week #1824]

INTRO COVER LETTER: Greetings MI’ers of Canada

Well – summer is in full swing and the kids are out of school. The other day I was at an outdoor pool here in Victoria visiting some friends who have a time share with wonderful rec facilities, including a very large and very wonderful pool. I saw a great example there about how learning works (or doesn’t work) as a Dad was trying to teach his three kids various techniques.

All three were different ages (maybe about 4, 6 and 8 – or so). It was the funniest thing. The Dad had the oldest one up on the deck demonstrating how to properly lift the head for good breath technique to improve her efficiency with the “forward crawl”. He was madly flailing his arms about his head and cranking his head far to the right with about every fourth or fifth stroke. Then he encouraged her to get into the pool and “give it a go” while he moved on to work with the youngest one to show him how to dunk his head under the water in the shallow end.

Well, when the oldest girl got into the water, she immediately started to swim like the dickens! She cranked her head hard to the right, all the time keeping it “high and dry” and out of the water and gasping for air with about every second stroke. She was practicing, just as he’d asked – except that she was practicing it in exactly the wrong way!
After a few minutes of working with his youngest (who had now perfected the holding of his nose while he “dunked under” as he referred to it), the Dad noticed that his little girl was practicing so diligently – and getting very good at breathing in exactly the wrong way! He jumped in the pool and swam along beside her and gave her feedback on each set of strokes and breaths as she learned the proper technique. In all, it was the perfect example of why practicing, without the advantage of supervision and feedback has little value for skill uptake. The same holds true for developing skill in MI. Thus – today’s T.I.P. (click the link above) is a reminder that “Practice Does Not Make Perfect!”