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Rapid skill acquisition

Who does not have the desire to become an expert in a particular field? It seems like everyone wants it, be an expert and master a skill. There are even people who have the desire to add a new skill in themselves. Whether playing musical instruments, dancing, singing, cooking, and so on.

rapid skill acquisition

Let us first peel things that we often forget, that in fact, learning (learning) with the acquisition of skills or expertise (skill acquisition) are two different things.

Josh Kaufman, in his book The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything ... Fast, quoting a statement from Dr. Krashen, University of Southern California professor and expert in second language mastery about these differences.

Learning helps you plan, edit, and correct yourself as you practice. That's why learning is valuable.

If you want to acquire a new skill, you must practice it in context. Learning enhances practice, but it doesn't replace it. If performance matters, learning alone is never enough.

Simply put, learning is the process of obtaining information, while the acquisition of skills is the application of the information in the form of training.

In achieving mental and physical skills, we will go through a process called The "three-stage model" of skill acquisition.

Stages that we must go through include:

  • Cognitive (Early) Stage, is the stage where we only try to understand the knowledge of the skills we will achieve without trying to apply them. In this phase, we will more often seek information, read, and think about the process that will be carried out.
  • Associative (Intermediate) Stage, is the stage where we begin to practice and adjust our approach based on feedback.
  • Autonomous (Late) Stage, is the stage where we begin to perform these skills efficiently and effectively without thinking heavily or paying attention to problems that we often encounter too deeply.
The above processes will occur every time when learning new things.

There are 2 levels when we want to master a skill.

  1. Expert level 
  2. Good/decent grades.

If we want to reach the expert level, we need an average of 10,000 hours of practice. This is consistent with the results of research published in 1993 by Anders Ericsson, a professor at the University of Colorado, with the title "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance."

However, if we only want to reach a good or decent level, we can get it faster, if combined with the right strategy. How to?

Josh Kaufman gives us a way to master expertise faster and more precisely. He called it the Rapid skill acquisition. To implement it, there are 4 stages that we must go through.
  • Deconstructing is a way to divide a skill into subskill as small as possible. For example, you want to sing, determine what genre of music you want to master, who is the singer that you make a role model. In this way, you have reduced your gaze and made it easier to practice.
  • Learning is a way to learn each subskill sufficiently to make it easier for us to practice. Simplifying is making us do the skills correctly and having the ability to correct ourselves when making mistakes.
  • Removing is a way to eliminate disturbances that are physically and emotionally present, in order to facilitate us in the learning process.
  • Practicing is practicing every subskill for at least 20 hours (Josh Kaufman's suggestion is based on his own experiments.)

Let's apply it immediately.

I take the example here, I want to play the guitar by applying Rapid skill acquisition, then ...

Deconstructing, I divide my expertise (playing guitar) into several subskills.

  1. How to hold a guitar properly and correctly. 
  2. How to tune the guitar correctly
  3. Learn basic keys. 
  4. Strumming technique 
  5. Hanging key 
  6. Play one simple song 
  7. Learn the passage techniques 
  8. Read the guitar tab.

Learning, It's time for me to study the theory of each subskill above.

Removing, before changing information into an exercise, I had to eliminate distractions that could slow down the learning process.

  •     Physical disruption: avoid the wrong equipment selection. Keep HP away.
  •     Emotional disorders: shame and hesitation in learning new things.
Practicing, after all of the above is resolved, it's time to start training. But before starting to practice, there are some things that must be understood first.
  • Only one subskill. Never do two subskills at once. we are only allowed to change tasks when we really have mastered the subskill.
  • Practicing in a special time. for maximum results, we must make a special time where the time is only devoted to practice with focus, without any interference.
  • Make feedback loops. Carefully understand the subskill we are doing. If you find an error immediately record it and correct it.

What makes the above method work?

1. Neuroplasticity
It is a concept of neuroscience that refers to the brain's ability to change structurally and functionally as a result of environmental input, actions, and consequences of these actions.

So, the more we learn new skills, both physically and mentally, our brains will develop more and more easily understand it.

2. Power law of practice
This law shows that the longer we spend practicing, the better our abilities will be.

The results of applying Rapid Skill Acquisition cannot be achieved as fast as lightning. we still need time to reach the level of expertise we want.

Even so, Rapid skill acquisition is one of the best ways to achieve expertise because it gives us the right strategies, attitudes, and behaviors faster and faster.

So, what skills do you want to master after knowing this technique?

Reading source:

     The First 20 Hours book: How to Learn Anything ... Fast. You can also watch the TED conference Josh Kaufman: The first 20 hours - how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman.

     The "three-stage model" of skill acquisition is based on research conducted by Kurt VanLehn with the title Cognitive Skill Acquisition.

     You can read Anders Ericsson's research on deliberate practice in The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.
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