“The benefit of a flight simulator is that it allows pilots to internalize their new knowledge.  Instead of memorizing lessons, a pilot can train the emotional brain, preparing the parts of the cortex that will actually make the decision when up in the air.” —Jonah LehrerHow We Decide

Great point.  When faced with a situation that requires action, we rarely have time to think, “What was that approach we talked about during Day Three of management training?”  We act from the gut.  And we train the gut through practice.

Valuable blog post by Deborah Laurel on why interpersonal skills need face-to-face training.  Her points 3 and 4 focus on practice, immediate feedback, and trial and error — and how they help learners master and retain new abiities:

Interactive skills require whole body learning. In other words, just because a participant intellectually grasps the steps in a specific type of interaction does not mean that the participant is able to effectively handle the interaction in real life. The only way that learners will achieve confidence in their own competence is for them to practice their new skills in simulations that are as real to life as possible.  

 a. The participants can evaluate whether their verbal and nonverbal behaviors are consistent with each other, or whether they are giving inconsistent messages.

b. The participants get a chance to see how it feels to actually say what needs to be said to the other person.

c. The participant has to adjust to and handle unexpected responses of the other person.

d. It gives participants the experience of having to think on their feet.

I’ve got to agree!  Practice that’s designed to be authentic, realistic, and unexpected (combined with a chance to coach and be coached by peers) is tremendously powerful.  It’s the difference between reading a recipe and tasting the dish.

Photo by Jill Brazel