“Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.” said Mr. Miyagi as he was instructing the Karate Kid in martial arts.
Mr. Miyagi had very eccentric tasks assigned to Daniel that seemed completely irrelevant to learning martial arts. And yet, the tasks brought crystal clarity to Daniel’s body when he needed to react. He had been absorbing martial arts all along without him knowing!
We see the very top-notch grandmasters of all walks of life doing the same extreme teaching. Random feats that seem to have no correlation to what you want to learn end up whipping off the tip of your tongue when you need it most.
A passerby might not get what the restorative yoga class is doing when they are sitting still for five minutes without thought. A beginner might not realize why a slight angle in wrist positions for gymnastics is so imperative until they realize the impact on the shoulders. To the less experienced, these teaching methods seem boring and meaningless.
My friend is an accomplished music instructor. Through a casual conversation, she mentioned that she first has her students experience the music through practice, then review and bring awareness to the practice. After all is said and done, she mentions the music theory and reasoning behind the practice.
This format is one of the most powerful ways for people to learn. We typically know and love to EAT. Start with an Experience that allows the individual to feel the sensations and be wrapped by the present. Follow it up with bringing Awareness to what they might have been too busy experiencing to notice. Then sum it all up with Theory, engaging the logical part of the brain when it should be.
You might have noticed that experience does not have to be physical. You went through several experiences at the beginning of this post, including a glimpse of The Karate Kid. As you are reading on, catching on, and learning about the EAT learning model, you can recall to some of your best teachers in life and see that they were using this model. And so is this post.
The reason that this model works so well is because when we are thrown into an experience, our mammalian brain takes over to try and figure out what we have to do to survive and maintain ourselves. In today’s world, survival is strongly associated with “saving face” so we strive to do everything perfectly.
Unbeknownst to us, we lose a majority of the minute details while we are in survive mode. We grab the map and navigate, but forget our wallet. Thus, the grandmaster steps in to point out the things that slipped from our attention to multiply our learning.
Stop throwing theory at your audience right off the bat. You, already having the experience and awareness, might think that this is a great idea. The audience WANTS to know how to survive before they know how to perfect. They want the logic and reasoning, yes, and they won’t need any of that if they are ashamed and too embarrassed to continue. When you give your audience an experience, follow with awareness, and THEN top it all off with theory and reasoning, your audience will feel completed. They will look at you in awe. They will make that exuberant sound of applause.
Try it and comment with your findings!