Repetition, repetition, repetition.

One of the most legendary coaches in the history of sport was John Wooden. Below is a great quote of his related to the laws of learning. What seems curious is that in certain fields, practice (or repetition) is accepted as a key component to building the competence, confidence and conditions for learning. Yet in other areas, repetition is seen as un-beautiful, archaic or unnecessary. 

Where it is acceptable? In sports, in theatre, in dance, in music; here, the learners are given multiple rehearsals, practice, repetition of scales, lines, moves, passes, routines – whatever they need to perform at some point, that becomes a focal point for practice till they have it- till its nailed down, mastered, fluent, flowing… they know the moves inside & out, they have their lines learnt and cadence and movement and execution clear. 

Where it seems unacceptable? In academic subjects, in social skills, in play – here, in these areas, it seems some illogical fallacy has taken hold whereby learners should either just do what they think is right, or just learn for the love of learning it… or just get it at some distant point in the future. piffle and waffle. If they need to learn it, teach it. If they don’t need the skill now, then why waste your time and theirs by teaching it? And the best way to learn something is by doing it. doing it so many times it becomes easy rather than hard… doing it so many times you don’t have to think about it- you can just perform those calculations, or critique the text, or identify the date or hold a conversation or take turns or win & lose or problem solve…

If you are failing to giving chances to repeat, to practice, to get effortless – then you are performing only two, at best three, laws of learning… you are teaching, but the students might not be learning…

So, follow Coach Wooden’s advice: 

“The four laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation and repetition. 

The goal is to create a correct habit that can be produced instinctively under great pressure. 

To make sure this goal was achieved, I create eight laws of learning — namely explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, and repetition.”

-Coach John Wooden

If you’d like more- here is his TED talk…


This blog was inspired by The TLCs Facebook page: