With the solstice having occurred, summer now is officially here. For many of us at Wilberforce, summer means relentless reading - delving into those inviting volumes piled by our bedside (or downloaded into our Kindles). But even with carefully planned reading, sometimes a new book jumps the queue and grabs our focus. This week I am enmeshed in one such work, Anders Ericsson's (co-written with Robert Peel) Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.
Known as the 10,000 hour man (a number he debunks in the book), Ericsson is a researcher who has spent over thirty years studying expert chess players, violinists, and spellers and, through this study, isolating the practice methodologies which produce achievement levels that neither raw talent nor ordinary practice alone can. While taking its lessons from specific field of expertise, Peak addresses a general audience: Ericsson's point is that the deliberate practice model offers a path for all. He shows how parents, teachers, and coaches can use deliberate practice to encourage and mentor youth to deeper thought and richer research. Ericsson also adds that none of us is too old to benefit from deliberate practice techniques, and he generously illustrates his contentions with stories, including that of an eighty-year old karate student.
To spike your curiosity, you can visit two links about Peak, one from Kirkus Reviews and an interview with Ericsson and Peel. And, while you are growing motivated to attack your passion with grit, resilience, and plan, I will be working on my writing (one of my passions), honing my mental representations. More than that, I will be sure I focus during my practice. As so often happens in my observations, a twenty-first century researcher has confirmed the very habit that Charlotte Mason discovered by observation. Were she alive, Miss Mason would be reminding us that the habit of attention take practice, deliberate practice.