Sunday, January 21, 2018

Leap and Learn

Earlier this week, I was in charge of a 3-day camp for law freshies. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say, it was grueling and exhausting - for the participants, and for me as a trainer.

In formulating the workshop content, I was faced with a difficult dilemma.

Some people caution me to "go easy" on them. Stick to the basic, stick to what they're familiar with (e.g. contract law). Guide them step-by-step, don't expect too much of them.

But wouldn't that be a wasted opportunity? They're no longer kids. The point is to train them to pick up new skills, not test them on what they already know and excel at.

So I chose to design the content to be really, really hard.

Spot me (clue: Master of Manspreading)

Learning is Limitless

And it paid off. The students performed far better than I expected.

That's where I differ from teachers in general, who tend to set a very low standard. They'll teach ten things, and expect all their students to pick up those ten things. Perfect retention: Mission accomplished.

I'm not like that. I set no limits.

Why teach ten things when I can teach a hundred? So what if they only pick up half of my lessons? Fifty is still more than ten.

My training tends to leave students feeling frustrated. But that's normal. That's because they're only counting the fifty things they failed to learn. They overlook the fifty things they did learn. That's a lesson there by itself. Life is about appreciating the things you've got, not the things you've not.

My aim is to push you to your limits.

What are your limits? I don't know. And chances are, neither do you.

The only way to push to your limits is by taking a leap, and not by tip-toeing around.

Who am I judge how much you can learn? I barely know you. It would be unproductive - and insulting - if I were to devise workshops on the assumption that you're a slow learner.

No, the best way to teach someone to swim is to throw them to the deep end of the ocean.

You'll be surprised how fast they learn how to float.

My 'Dating 101' workshop

Learning Is Hard

When you leap, you're more likely to fall - and falling hurts. But as they say: no pain, no gain.

Educational syllabus are designed to accommodate the average student. Do you want to be average? Sure, then by all means follow the syllabus, chapter by chapter. But if you want to be more than average, then you have to jump a few chapters ahead and accelerate your learning curve.

Will you face more difficulties attempting to learning advanced stuff? Of course you will.

Will you get more incorrect answers and lower marks when attempting advanced test? Of course you will.

Will you feel more stressed and depressed when attempting to overcome advanced challenges (and failing miserably)? Of course you will.

But that's the whole point. It's all part of the process. If learning feels comfortable, it means you're learning too slow. Learning is meant to be hard. Revising is easy.

The best way to learn is to keep learning something new and useful, every day.

Learning is about moving forwards, and not looking backwards.

Learning Is Exciting

But most of all, learning can be exciting.

Do you feel excited re-reading Chapter One to commit every word to memory? Of course not.

Do you feel excited listening to the same old lecture? Of course not.

Do you feel excited answering the same questions over and over again? Of course not.

Now, excitement is not the same as contentment. When you're re-watching Harry Porter for the eleventh time, of course you feel some satisfaction from the familiarity it brings. Nostalgia can be addictive.

But do you truly feel excited? No.

Excitement only comes in encountering something unexpected (and hopefully, interesting and pleasant). And not in repetition.

There's no excitement in doing simple arithmetic (1+1=?) or revising basic principles (five elements of contract).

The fun part of learning is learning something new and challenging.

Learning should feel like an adventure. Adventures are fun.

Moot Camp = no tents, no sleeping, no outdoor activities

Leap and Learn

I don't agree in differentiating students according to years, or even CGPA. I genuinely believe that we're all equally capable of learning the same things and excelling in the same tasks.

Age matters not, experience matters not. In fact, age and experience can sometimes be a hindrance to learning - you assume you know it all when you actually don't, and you stubbornly refuse to unlearn what you have learnt.

I often tell students to focus less on the destination, and just enjoy the journey. That way, you'll reach to destinations you never thought possible.

Don't let anyone tell you you're only good for something (or good for nothing). Don't let anyone (including yourself) set firm expectations for you. Don't let anyone dictate how much and how fast you should learn.

Dive into the deep end. Punch above your weight. Shoot for the stars.

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