The Endless problem of goal setting

If I just act, everything will be perfect. I’m a genius dad, teacher and cartoonist after all! In reality, son, wife, students, lack of drawing skills, destroy my fantasies of perfection.

I’m reading Development of Professional Expertise, edited by K. Anders Ericsson, partially for developing my own skill and to developteaching skills. It’s a book focusing on how soldiers, doctors, pilots and lawyers achieve high technical skills by looking at training and evaluations, trying to introduce some level of objective understanding beyond what the bosses say is good.

Many of the articles look at Military training. Soldiers deal with a wide range of circumstances beyond just shooting straight, with Iraq and Afghanistan it’s become even clearer that to "win" they need to embrace society and work with people even more, then just blow shit up. The blow shit up tactic has failed so many times in invasion situations you have to wonder when society will abandon it as a solution to not liking other societies. But it’s interesting to look at how the military is trying to train people, not to just play video games in the real world, but do something productive. Their training used to consist of war games alone now they are using other means of trying to make people think. They set their goals as

  1. focus on the goal and higher intent
  2. Model a thinking enemy
  3. Consider the effect of terrain
  4. Use all assets available
  5. Consider timing
  6. See the big picture
  7. Visualize the battlefield
  8. Consider contingencies and remain flexible.

While the lefty in me wishes all of us could focus on the goals and higher intent more, I like how they have broken the parts of their training into a seperate set of goals rather then one big project. by aving smaller sections they can have students repeat tasks over and over again to learn something. This is what becomes Directed practice. They defined it as

  1. Repetition – looked at it as task performance
  2. focused feedback – coach is giving them a direct response to what it is they should be learning
  3. Immediacy of performance – repeat the task with an evaluation, so that they can judge if they are learning the steps.
  4. Stop and Start- repeat and feedback repeat and feedback
  5. Emphasis on difficult effects- – it allows you to target small areas that you need to work on instead of the things you can do well already available to you
  6. Focus on areas of weakness- can be tailored to the individual so that your working on the areas that matter to you about what you are doing.
  7. Conscious focus- Expert behavior is characterized by action without conscious effort- flow. Practice is about skill acquisition to the situation that you are in. In directed practice you are focusing on a small part that you can then use without conscious effort in your work as you focus on playing the whole game. Soviet chess training and deliberate practice.? the training then is then a multi media presentation that allows the student to do essay questions which address each issue that the soldiers have figured out what they want to do. Whats interesting about this is that they have analyzed what the goals of the training is and then built around the goals of what they are doing.


They then set up a multi-media program to introduce the topics and then make people write essays to think about the problems.

It is of course easier to design this kind of work into a class on Flash then it is to apply to my own work as a cartoonist. IN the classroom I need to give more evaluations as students do a task, use more repetition of the task, and give students tasks they can practice on their own. Homework designed to master a task , not just do a project like it’s the real world. With my own work it’s harder to evaluate But my focus on the blog is going to be in constructing exercises for myself that are practice in storytelling, writing and interactivity, and struggle out how to evaluate what I have done with my work

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