Archive for February, 2009

27
Feb
09

An Important Story

Excerpt from Alice Springs News

By ERWIN CHLANDA

Mark Lockyer says he began drinking at age 12.
At 17 he moved out of Hidden Valley, where he had grown up, so that he wouldn’t remain an alcoholic.
“I didn’t want to die from drinking,” he says.
But his aunty, to whom he was very close, did.
His mother, now an invalid, remained in the squalid town camp, and so he maintained a connection with this source of much anti-social behaviour in Alice Springs.
As a kid he himself was an occasional player, roaming the town in gangs of six to a dozen kids, “from the camps, the bush and urban kids” – stealing hard liquor, “bottles of grog, rum, vodka” – and food from bottle shops and supermarkets.
Mark’s mother lives in an exceptionally neat house amongst the Hidden Valley mayhem.
It’s 3.30pm on Friday.
Most able-bodied adults in Alice are still at work, but across the road, in a freshly renovated house, painted in garish blue colours, the daily drinking party is getting into full swing.
There are about two dozen young men and women, many already under the weather.
The scene outside leaves little to the imagination about what the interior would look like, recently refurbished at taxpayers’ expense.
Says Mark: “There are already graffiti, smashed doors and windows.
“It’s almost back where it started, trashed.
“There are 15 to 20 people, beds, mattresses, beer cans all over the yard, 12 year old girls drinking and smoking dope.”

(continued here.)

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11
Feb
09

Deliberate Practice

Reading the Weekend Australian I recently stumbled across this fascinating article about ‘deliberate practice’, a concept exploring the acquisition of expert performance.  This Freakonomics blog post summarises:

This means that, your level of natural talent notwithstanding, excellence is accomplished mainly through the tenets of deliberate practice, which are roughly:

1. Focus on technique as opposed to outcome.
2. Set specific goals.
3. Get good, prompt feedback, and use it.

Dr K Anders Ericsson is the authorative figure for this work.  An extract here:

For appropriate challenging problems experts don’t just automatically extract patterns and retrieve their response directly from memory. Instead they select the relevant information and encode it in special representations in working memory that allow planning, evaluation and reasoning about alternative courses of action (Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996). Hence, the difference between experts and less skilled subjects is not merely a matter of the amount and complexity of the accumulated knowledge; it also reflects qualitative differences in the organization of knowledge and its representation (Chi, Glaser & Rees, 1982).  Experts’ knowledge is encoded around key domain-related concepts and solution procedures that allow rapid and reliable retrieval whenever stored information is relevant.  

Continue reading ‘Deliberate Practice’




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