practicing errors

It turns out practice doesn’t always make perfect. If you practice something the wrong way enough times you start solidifying the error. This relates to the idea of Hebbian learning, where neurons in the brain that fire, are more likely to fire in the future. Essentially what you do is what you’re likely to do.

This makes it important to take breaks when you’re having difficulty with something. And important to get feedback when you’re failing to find ways to improve. This is so crucial they are even developing intelligent math tutoring programs that can detect when students are making errors before they finish the problem and give immediate feedback.

Unfortunately, this result of practicing errors is rarely taken into account in most learning environments. The student is given instruction, then thrown into long and often repetitive exercises, given plenty of time to reinforce misconceptions and errors before getting any feedback. If they student is lucky, the feedback is more constructive than just a grade.

This is expesionally unfortunate when it comes to studying the Bible as it is so important, and so often wrongly twisted. Usually Bible students are given no instruction in how to study it. They may often get the results of a pastor’s study, but that can serve as a discouragement when they aren’t able to find the same meaning in it’s pages.

As I’m learning more about how to undertake careful study of the Bible the find its meaning, and not my own, I’m becoming impressed that I need to share these tools with others. Often those who come out to Bible studies, particularly on university campuses, will not stick around for long as they don’t fully realize their need, and other things seem more pressing. But if in that short time I have with them I can use to teach them how to study, if I can’t point them to the truths in the Bible, then at least they will be well equipped to find them on their own.

If you teach a man to fish . . .


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October 2008
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