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Accelerated Learning for High Achievers

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Most are aware of accelerated weight loss and fitness programs because of common, frequent advertising exposure to such; particularly because an alternative channel is selling discounted, super-sized, fast food meals on Tuesdays after 3 pm. However, with the exception of foreign languages, most people do not hear about general accelerated learning.

Accelerated learning and skills development occur regularly with athletes, musicians and other artists committed to performance activities. Unfortunately, most consider high achievers’ intelligence (or breadth and depth of knowledge) to be gifts, not outcomes of development. As such, most do not consider “learning” to be a skill, something that one can enrich and nurture, with the expectation of improvement. Instead, most engage in the activity of learning as if it were always “performance time” without expectation of sharpening the tools before and route to performance.

Moreover, school systems often place students into “tracks” of courses without attempting to modify teaching strategies and student learning skills, except for the very least capable students who receive a “special” education. The worst of systems are essentially saying, “We will present the information in a uniform manner and the students must learn it as they are able. It is not our role to teach them how to learn.”

The information growth curve over the past thirty years has been phenomenal. With the explosive expansion of information content, instructors are very challenged to screen it. As such, students actually are increasingly responsible for their own learning. However, instructors must clearly define objectives, provide multi sensory demonstrations of the materials, and assure that students have high-quality access to the best curated, relevant information and experiential-type resources as they are able to identify. The instructors then act more as guides, directors, coaches, tutors and cooperative participants in the group learning processes (similar to working in a student chemistry lab).

Learning is basically founded upon exposure to a logical presentation of materials, coordination, re-organization, and application of information, leading to lattices of multi-functional data that is progressively and meaningfully arranged for memorization and future use. You put it all together logically, sequentially, a single piece of data at a time. Then, knowledge becomes simply the ability to recall and apply it as needed. As you simply accept this (A→ B →C) “one piece of data at a time” concept, that you have always performed, you simply recognize the requirement for sometimes time-intensive fact acquisition, association-building, and retention. We were not all born with identical anatomy, physiology, and apparent functional strengths. But, over time, the learning process becomes easier, and more efficient, as with any practiced skill.

You may accelerate this process in a couple of ways:

You can incorporate concurrent complementary strategies (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5) → B → C, at any stage in the process. In this example An are alternate ways by which to characterize data A to enhance retention, B represents the application of a variety of memorization techniques and C is the endpoint. You can also better prepare yourself for learning as PE→A→ B →C, where PE in the diagram represents preparing your Preparation and Environment. This refers to adequate nourishment, rest, self-motivation, establishing objectives, gathering your resources, studying in a quiet, non-distracting settings, and engaging in intermittent relaxation as you learn.

Most school systems and teachers have their preferred teaching styles/methods. In public systems, without the obligation to demonstrate high performance in all of their students, materials are often presented in whatever manner is most expedient, frequently via efficient lectures and moderate homework assignments. You need to enhance the learning experience by exposure to more nuances of the materials. Any one of these multiple information facets or perspectives (An) may be the one that stimulates the individual learner.

As an example, “Why is the NCAA D1 level college football training approach so successful at creating professionals?” Teams apply the following: team members are provided play-books, they watch film, they are verbally instructed by coaches, they perform strength and conditioning exercise, they practice physical game skills and plays/strategies on the field, and they eat (well) and live together to increase team member familiarity and bonding. The football team engages every physical and mental sense, and psychological tool, robustly and repeatedly, to reinforce knowledge, skills and the ability to execute all spontaneously and under duress. Moreover, unlike the instructor who teaches a class with an expectation of yielding a bell-curve performance from the students, the football coaches recognize that half of the team cannot underperform. Rather, the entire team must perform not only competently, but superiorly in the interest of winning, as well as for scholarship and job retention for all. There is baseline ability magnified by intent, strategy, assistance, and incentive.

The NCAA regularly demonstrates that intensive, immersion type, holistic training for the understanding of concepts, facts, and practicing skills can deliver high-performance athletes. If the same approach is applied to general academic subjects you will see more Heisman trophy equivalent academic performances in all students. As well, you will see more “instructor of the year” performances by teaching staff. There are real barriers, aside from institutional financial status. How do you overcome the adverse influences of union mentalities, tenure-sustained apathy, social biases, environmental disincentives, and the lack of immediate incentives particularly for socioeconomically disadvantaged students who are always asked to live with promises of delayed gratification while others are rewarded (or paid) no matter how the students perform? As a topic beyond this tome, you address these challenges as you are able, at least not failing to acknowledge their existence.

Accelerated learning for the high academic achiever is not based upon accelerated presentation of materials and voluminous assignments. Accelerated learning strategy utilization is the regular application of comprehensive, enhanced learning strategies, reinforced by a holistic, “all in by all” commitment to succeed. There are many opinions regarding the optimal technologies to accompany this approach. And, the larger, as well as more socially and academic-skills diverse the participants, the more challenging it is to pace a class. However, to the best of its component capabilities, the strategist should assure that all students have the resources to engage the learning techniques. Moreover, parents, guardians and the community must understand the objectives, with the school becoming a center for excellence.

Accelerated learning is a perspective, an attitude, a toolbox, a set of strategies for effective, efficient, holistic, generous, and needs-sensitive application, with recognition of individualized paths to the most prolific outcomes.

Hurricane Harvey and Floods Inspire Humanity, Compassion, and a New Look at Climate Change

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The heroic and unselfish response to catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas on August 25, 2017, continues to inspire people to live in a way that shows compassion for their fellow humans. No matter what one’s religion or upbringing have been, one tends to develop empathy for people who need shelter, food, and other special attention. Humans learn to live compassionately by example, especially when they observe unselfish sacrifices made by others who assist people in need. These are the valuable lessons learned from the devastating scenes amidst the storm, those calls for help that we observe both on the ground and on television. Each heroic contribution made by volunteers opens hearts and minds while developing a degree of moral support for the environmental protection groups. In short, concerned people want to make efforts to make this a better world in which to live by finding out how to safeguard their neighbors.

It was inspirational to see the Navy rescuing citizens of Houston as well as others throughout southeastern Texas. Their heroic, humanitarian efforts were so admirable as they responded adeptly to the needs of people in danger. One helicopter saved seven stranded people and then courageously took off again to look for others trapped by the flood waters. The military acted so bravely during the flood although one naturally hopes they will not have to respond to such devastation again in the future.

Neighbors, journalists, foreigners, and people of all ethnicities and religions lent a hand when spontaneously put to the test. A group of journalists risked their lives to save a senior citizen in his car when he mistakenly drove into a deep stream of water. Rather than ignoring a domestic animal in danger, a group of men saved a dog that had been about to drown in the threatening waters. Nursing homes were evacuated while other vulnerable, hospitalized people were carried out by volunteers. Such courage abounded to accomplish great rescue missions!

People in Texas worked together regardless of race, origin, or nationality during the catastrophic event. It was soothing to know that homeless people were being supplied with shelter, with clothes, and with a place to sleep. Seeing others who do good deeds to help people in need encourages viewers to consider how everyone can assist one another. Although most people are too far away to assist in many humanitarian operations, one might consider living in a way that prevents future occurrences of other catastrophic weather events.

Many do not agree that climate change exists; however, the possibility is worth serious examination so as not to put future generations in harm’s way. Providing a fine and free science education for all young people and taking better care of our planet might prevent future tragedies related to climate. By considering these possibilities, we can make a positive difference, even from afar. Moreover, the time has come to re-examine our priorities. Do we really need a lot of material goods? Are we defined by our possessions? Would it be possible to utilize alternative forms of energy so as not to damage or pollute the environment? We can be heroic if we change our ways so as to protect the environment for future generations. We can be heroic if we accept others as they are and assist them in times of need, much like the first responders did in Texas.