‘의도적인 연습’이란? (안젤라 덕워스)

‘의도적인 연습deliberate practice’은 1만시간의 법칙을 처음 말한 앤더스 에릭슨 박사가 모든 분야의 전문가들에게서 공통적으로 발견한 ‘전문성을 위한 필수요소’입니다. 당연히 운동선수도 해당이 되구요. 이 분의 저술을 들여다 보면 의도적인 연습이라고 하는 것이 ‘분명한 목표를 가진 연습’ 이상의 개념이라는 것을 알 수 있습니다. 에릭슨 박사가 이야기한 ‘의도적인 연습deliberate practice’은 다음과 같은 요소로 구성되어 있습니다.

(1) 구체적이고 도전적인 훈련목표
(2) 100% 몰입할 수 있는 환경(가급적 혼자서 연습할 것)
(3) 피드백 (가급적 구체적이고 객관적인)
(4) 피드백을 기꺼이 수용하려는 태도

펜실베니아 주립대학교 안젤라 리 덕워스 Angela Lee Duckworth 박사의 강연이 ‘의도적인 연습’을 비교적 쉽게 설명해 놓은 듯 해서 옮긴 내용입니다.

코야동18

의도적인 연습이란?

앤더슨이 발견한 것은 이겁니다. 모든 분야의 전문가들은 수년간에 걸쳐 수많은 시간을 연습해서 뛰어난 신체적, 지적 능력을 얻었다는 겁니다. 그런데 대중적인 관심을 얻은 것은 연습의 양이었습니다. 그렇게 1만시간이라는 말은 유행처럼 번지게 되었죠.

하지만 실제 앤더슨 박사가 강조하고자 한 것은 연습의 질입니다. 저는 이번 시간에 그가 말한 ‘의도적인 연습deliberate practice’이 무엇인지 설명하고자 합니다. ‘의도적인 연습’은 매우 수준이 높은 양질의 연습을 강조하기 위해 그가 사용한 표현입니다.

그전에 먼저 두가지 다른 학습패턴을 살펴보려고 합니다. 학습을 연구하는 분들께는 매우 친숙할겁니다. 첫번째 것을 보면요. 연습을 조금만 해도 꽤 잘해내는 분야가 있습니다. 이만하면 됐다 여기고 더 나아지기를 멈추죠. 많은 기술들이 여기에 해당합니다. 운전을 예로 들 수 있습니다. 운전을 시작합니다. 조금씩 익숙해지게 되고 어느 시점에서는 충분히 잘하게 됩니다. 그리고는 운전기술을 더 향상시키려는 노력을 멈춥니다. 운전같은 일은 그렇습니다. 어느 시점에서 사람들은 더 나아지기를 원하지 않습니다. 정체된 수준에 머물기가 쉽습니다. 어떤 분야에서 그런 정체기를 벗어나 지속적인 발전을 이루려면 그래서 의도적인 연습이 필요합니다. 그냥 아무 생각없는 연습이 아니구요.

또다른 패턴 역시 이 온라인 강의를 듣는 분이라면 익숙하실 겁니다. 이를테면 완전히 열정에 불타서 마이클 센델 교수의 하버드 강의를 듣기 시작합니다. 하지만 두번째 강의가 끝나고 나면 처음의 열정은 온데간데 없어지죠. 세번째 강의부터는 듣지 않게 됩니다. 그렇죠? 하지만 이것 역시 받아들여야 할 삶의 일부입니다. 무언가를 그만두는 것도 삶의 일부죠. 저는 이제 피아노를 연습하지 않습니다. 괜찮아요. 왜냐하면 저에게는 다른 것들을 추구하기 위한 시간이 필요하기 때문이죠.

의도적인 연습이란 무엇일까요? 전문가들의 연습이 일반적인 사람들의 연습보다 효율적인 이유가 무엇일까요?

의도적인 연습을 교실에서 수학문제를 풀곤 했던 내 친구들의 공부와 구별시키는 첫번째 요소는 그것이 바로 다분히 ‘의도’를 품고 있다는데 있습니다. 두가지 측면에서요. 학습자는 마음 속에 아주 구체적인 목적이 있다는 겁니다. “이제 수학문제를 풀거야.” 이런게 아니라는 것이죠. 최고의 축구선수는 훈련을 위해 운동장에 들어서며 “나 오늘 잘할거야.” 이러지 않습니다. 그들은 매우 구체적이죠. 그들은 자신이 오늘 어떤 것을 연습해야 하는지 분명히 의식하고 훈련을 시작합니다.

두번째는 도전적인 목표입니다. 이것 역시 분명해야 합니다. 에릭슨 박사를 처음 만났을 때 저는 꽤 까다로운 질문을 건냈어요.

“박사님, 1만시간의 법칙이 사실이라면 저도 지금까지 1만시간 동안은 달린 것 같은데 왜 조금도 달리는게 빨라지지 않죠? 저는 늘 시간을 재는데 매번 똑같아요.”

그때 박사님은 저에게 몇가지의 질문을 던졌어요. 특히 박사님은 제가 더 빨리 달리고자 하는 뜻이 있었는지 알고 싶어하셨죠. 전혀 아니었죠. 저는 더 빨리 달리겠다는 생각을 한 적은 없었습니다. 바로 그런 겁니다.

시카고 지역에 조 핸더슨이라는 위대한 크로스컨츄리 코치님이 계십니다. 그분은 연습을 이런 식으로 시작합니다.

“얼마나 빨리 달리는 지는 관계없다. 오늘은 어제보다 더 빨리 달리는거다.”

의도적인 연습의 두번째 요소가 바로 이겁니다. 도전적인 목표! 물론 구체적이어야 하구요. 지금까지는 하지 못했던 것을 하고자 하는 겁니다. 대부분 배우는 사람들은 기본적으로 이 과정을 즐기지는 못합니다. (에릭슨 박사의 책에는 이 부분도 중요하게 다룹니다. 잘 할 수 있는 것을 벗어나 새로운 것을 도전할 때 느껴지는 불편함을 이해해야 한다고 말합니다. 역자주)

다음은 집중입니다. 100퍼센트 몰입하는 거죠. 케빈 듀란트같은 최고의 농구선수를 연구해보면 흥미롭습니다. 그들은 연습의 대부분을 혼자 합니다. 저는 혼자 하는 연습이 언제나 효과적이라고 생각하지는 않습니다. 하지만 그런 연습은 완전한 집중을 이끌어주긴 합니다. 저 역시 집에 혼자 있을 때, 그리고 핸드폰이 울리지 않고 아무도 저를 찾아오지 않을 때 훨씬 많은 일을 합니다. 완전히 혼자 있을 때죠. 비행기를 탈 때도 마찬가지구요. 그렇지 않나요? 어떻게 하면 100퍼센트 몰입할 수 있는 환경을 만드느냐가 중요합니다.

세번째는 피드백입니다. 당연한 것처럼 들리실텐데요. 하지만 실제 배우는 과정에서 얼마나 피드백을 받을까요? 제가 볼 때 지금과 같은 디지털 세상은 학습에 매우 큰 도움이 됩니다. 이런 강의형태의 전통적인 학습환경에서는 즉각적이고, 정보가 풍부하면서, 개인적인 피드백을 받을 수가 없습니다.

올림픽에 나가는 선수들은 다이빙 보드를 떠나 물에 뛰어들고 나면 즉각적으로 점수를 받습니다. 또 잘한 것은 무엇이고, 잘못한 것은 무엇인지 비디오를 돌려볼 수 있습니다. 코치로부터 약간의 코칭도 받구요. “이거 봐. 왼쪽 팔꿈치가 조금 높은데?” 이런 피드백이야말로 새로운 것을 익히는 속도를 비약적으로 높이는 요소입니다.

그렇다면 의도적인 연습에 있어 가장 어려운 것은 무엇일까요? 심리학자인 제가 볼 때는 자만 내지는 허영심을 내려놓는 겁니다. 실제 잘못한 것에 대한 피드백을 받으면 에고가 출렁거립니다. 저는 이런 강의를 하고 가끔 피드백을 받는데 언제나 피드백을 받기 전에 움츠러 듭니다. “내가 좀 더 개선했으면 하는 점이 있으세요?” 심지어는 이런 말을 하기 전부터 움츠러 듭니다. 사실 저는 (제가 개선할 점을) 알고 싶지 않습니다. 그렇지 않나요? ‘좀 더 말을 천천히 했으면 좋겠어요. 3,4열에 있는 사람들과 조금더 눈을 맞추면 좋겠어요. 슬라이드가 뒤에서는 잘 안보여요.’ 그게 뭐든 저는 알고 싶지 않아요.

(강연 전문)

Talent and effort, I think, are, as Will Smith and Francis Galton and Charles Darwin would tell us, two different things. And in fact, in a very simple way, you can think about multiplying them to get skill. If you have zero talent, doesn’t matter how hard you’ll work – you won’t be skilled. But on the same token, if you have abundant talent and you don’t try, or you’re never given an opportunity to try – and here’s where I think MOOCs really democratized learning – if you don’t have an opportunity to learn, you also won’t develop skill. So talent matters and so does effort.

But you’ll see that I have effort here twice and that is because I respect the doers in the world – the people who are skilled and they do something with their skill. I think all of us know people who have acquired great skill in their lives, and at some point, for reasons that we might not fully understand and maybe they don’t either, they stop doing. They stop doing things with their writing skill, with their speaking skill, with their mathematical skill, with their programming skills. So, where effort counts twice is in unleashing our talent, and then, again, in converting those skills into tangible, real-world, useful achievements.

Talent counts, effort counts twice. I want to bring you completely up-to-date to the modern science of high achievement. This slide summarizes the work of my close colleague and friend Anders Ericsson. And if you’ve ever heard the phrase “10,000 hours,” then you’ve heard of his work.

Anders Ericsson is a psychologist at Florida State University. He trained with Herb Simon, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, and together they began a program of research which was to basically decode skill development. They wanted to understand really beyond what Galton and Darwin could say:

How do these people become so eminent?
Where does skill come from?

And what Anders has found is that it is over thousands and thousands of hours spread out over years and years that individuals acquire complex skills of any kind, physical or intellectual, and it is the quantity of the practice that has, I guess, attracted the popular imagination. There’s something very viral about 10,000 hours as a meme.

But it’s the quality of the practice, actually, that Anders would like to put the emphasis on. And given the focus of this meeting, I will spend some time really unpacking what deliberate practice, which is Anders’ term for this high-quality practice, what it really is.

Before I do, let me point out that there are two other trajectories, and these will be very familiar to anybody who studies learning.

The first is that people will get very good at something or good enough at something at the early stages of their practice and training and then they will stop getting better because they’re fine, right? And many skills are like this. You drive, and then you drive better, but then at a certain point, you drive OK enough, and then you stop improving in your skill. And for some things, like driving, that’s fine. But the real lesson for me about this flat line is that it is easy for individuals not to improve beyond a certain point. It is easy for them to what I say is resting on the plateau of arrested development.

And it’s deliberate practice, not mindless practice, that keeps you off of the plateau and on the red line of continuous improvement. And then, of course, familiar to anybody who works in MOOCs, there is the dropout trajectory, which is, you start full of enthusiasm for taking Michael Sandel’s justice course at Harvard, and after the second lecture, your enthusiasm has left you, and you never get to the third lecture. Right? So this is, of course, part of life. You have to drop out of things, right? I mean, I don’t practice piano anymore and that’s a good thing because it has made more time for other pursuits.

But by the same token, I think we have to realize – and again this audience knows better than I do – complex human skills are really use it or lose it. They atrophy with disuse. And so, if individuals continually drop out of one thing after another they will never even stay on the plateau of arrested development; they will lose everything that they have begun to gain.

What is deliberate practice, and what makes experts’ practice so much more efficient than the practice of other people? I’m gonna present Anders Ericsson’s work, and I know there are some people in the audience who could stand up here and and give the same lecture. I think there are also probably people in the audience who know that there’s a controversy around this research. And the controversy really centers on how much has Anders Ericsson cracked the code of skill development and how much has he, sort of, left out, and what else is there – other than deliberate practice – that might matter?

I think Anders will take a pretty strong position and say you can explain almost all of skill through this simple process, whereas others would put more of an emphasis on native talent, including things like your working memory or your IQ. But one thing that is not controversial in the cognitive science literature, or psychology more broadly, is that this is effectively the fundamental process by which human beings learn.

So whether there are other factors or how much luck or opportunity or talent also matter, there is a consensus in the scientific field that this is actually the process by which skills do augment with experience.

The first thing that distinguishes deliberate practice from the kind of practice I used to see my own middle school math students do as their teacher is that it’s intentional, and in particular, it’s intentional in two ways.

The first is that the learner has a specific goal in mind, not a general like “I am here to do math.” Right? You don’t see world-class soccer players go onto the pit and say, “I’m gonna play soccer better today.” No, no, no. It’s very specific. They intentionally know what aspect of their practice they’re going to work on.

And the second is that it’s a challenging goal. This is, of course, obvious, but really how obvious is it? When I first met Anders Ericsson, I gave him what I thought was a challenging scenario and it was true. I said, “Anders, if this 10,000 hour rule has any truth to it, why is it that I have cumulatively run 10,000 hours in my life and I’m not a second faster than I ever was? I can set the clocks in my house by the time I come back from my run because it is exactly the same time every time.” And so he asked me a series of questions, and in particular, he wanted to know if I ever tried to run faster. No, actually. I have never once in my life tried to run faster.

The winningest cross-country coach in history, I think, is Joe Henderson. He coaches outside of University of Chicago, I guess, the City of Chicago, for me, I think of it as the University of Chicago. But he’s a track coach at a local high school and he often begins his track practices with this: “However fast you can run today, run faster.” And so that’s the second aspect of this, you know, stretch goal. It’s specific. It’s challenging. You have to do what you cannot yet do. Most learners don’t fundamentally enjoy that.

Focus. 100 percent engagement. Interestingly, when you study world-class experts like Kevin Durant, the basketball player, they spend the majority of their practice time alone. Now I don’t think solitude is doing any work here, but I think what solitude enables is full concentration. I don’t know about you but I get so much more work done when I’m at home and the phone’s not ringing and people aren’t coming into my office and, you know, when I am completely alone, I get so much more – it’s like on an airplane ride – you get so much more done. Right? And I think the key is, if this is not the reality for most people, how can you get as close to 100 percent engagement as possible in their learning?

Third, there is feedback. And this, again, is complete common sense, but really, how much feedback do most learners get in most context? Here, I think digital learning has a huge advantage because the traditional learning formats of standing in a lecture hall like this with lots of students does not enable the kind of immediate and information-rich and personalized feedback that is optimal for learning.

I think a good guiding principle would be this: How can we get MOOCs and other learning experiences to be more like what it is to be an Olympic athlete in training? When an Olympian dives off the diving board or finishes a lap, they immediately get their score, their time, and a video playback of what went well, what didn’t go well, and then some coaching from their coach, to say, “You see that? You see that? That’s what I mean by your left elbow being a little too high.” That’s the kind of feedback I think that would perhaps radically increase the rate at which people could learn new material.

And then the final process gets back to the being – that is the theme of the conference and that the opening remarks really got to. What’s the hardest thing about deliberate practice? Is it setting a challenging and specific goal? Is it finding solitude or complete concentration? Is it figuring out how to get rapid and information-rich feedback?

As a psychologist, I think the hardest part of deliberate practice is to let go of vanity. Because when you really listen to feedback about what you got wrong, it is ego crushing. I get feedback sometimes after talks like this and I’m always cringing even before I get it. I say to my organizers, as I will today, “What’s one thing I can do better?” And even before they open their mouths, I just, I’m like, I don’t want to know, really. Right? You know, you could speak a little slower. You can make a little better eye contact with the third and fourth row. Your slides are a little hard to read from the back.

Whatever it is, I don’t want to know. And I think that, again, is a motivational, emotional, psychological challenge for designers of online courses. How can you not only give feedback, but ensure or increase the probability that it will be received and that there will be some reflection going on in the head of the learner, and that they will then make a small adjustment, and then start the process all over again? That’s what deliberate practice is.

And however much weight you put on talent, I will say that if you follow these four steps of deliberate practice consistently, you will get better at whatever it is you are trying to learn to do.

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