Learning by doing

Everyone has a different learning style and for many of us the only way to get the hang of something (like not drinking) is by actually trying it out. We can read and talk and learn from others but until we actually do it for ourselves the words mean nothing. I found this story to illustrate learning by doing:

I recently had the excellent experience of a days off road rally driving adventure with one of my bestest mates in the world. This all took place in Yorkshire on a WWII airfield. All in a rear wheel souped up purpose built car.

So all I wanted was to experience driving. To do it. Here is what happened.

One of the driving tutors did an introductory speech, before we were allowed into the cars. This consisted of an energetic build up, which was very good and then they went into ‘how’ a rear wheel drive car works and how we ( the participants – all 11 of us ) should drive the car.

I switched off ( you surprised? ) just after 10 minutes of explanations of what was coming and how to do it – explanations of experience. I was literally chomping at the bit, ready to get into the car and just do it. I want the physical experience without all of the explanations. See for me, I much prefer doing something and then maybe talking about it; after the experience …

Luck would have it, I had the same tutor as a driving instructor. After lap one they had me pull up and then went into an explanation of what I should do on the next lap. I know they meant well but their explanations where not helping me build up my experiential knowledge of driving the car. So I told them that what they were saying wasn’t helping me learn to drive.

They responded that they had never been told that before and immediately went into more ‘helpful’ hints and tips. At that point I simply said “Shut up …and help me”. I told them that their help while driving was extremely useful ( it was ) but all this ‘if you had done’, ‘what you should do at corner ‘x’ was to me really unwanted at my present level of experience.

They said they would work with me and went into a story that they had helped a man with severe brain damage successfully drive the car by just offering tips while driving. I said that was a good idea; still not sure about the brain damage.
But hey …

Well, when the competition started; Yes there was a competition, set up
between male and female drivers ( ??? ). With the real assistance of my tutor I did come second place overall. Now, I was never for one heart beat interested in a competition on that day, I am guessing that comes much later when I have the skills to race! Vroooom vrooommm!

So here is my point. When we are learning a new skill, by choice or by
necessity, there is nothing wrong and everything right with demanding an
experiential learning.

When we were little, much younger, we learned to speak and walk
( things we are naturally excellent at ) by experience and not via verbal
description. This is my much preferred and valued learning style.

What is yours? How do you learn at your best? Is the actual experience of not drinking the way you learned how to do it, or did you/do you learn better by seeing/reading/hearing how others do it? If you know your learning style, you are potentially much more likely to succeed at anything you choose to do.

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SWAN is a new friendship and support network for people who choose to live without alcohol. Everyone is welcome.

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