Analysis of "The Myth of Practice Makes Perfect"

312 WordsFeb 23, 20152 Pages
ANALYSIS of “The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’” by Annie Murphy Paul Central claim: Mastery of a skill demands deliberate practice, focusing on improving weak areas, rather than just spending time repeating the activity (Explicit). Reason: Improvement at a skill only occurs when the practitioner works to notice and eliminate errors through practice. Evidence: • Authoritative opinion from cognitive psychologist Gary Marcus argues that deliberate practice is much more effective than unfocused just-for-pleasure practice. • Marcus cites studies that show that working to improve weaknesses is more likely to result in improvement than just spending more time practicing. • Authoritative opinion from a 1993 Anders Ericsson paper suggests that although practice focusing on fixing errors may not be the most enjoyable, it is probably the most effective. • Research on practice sessions of pianists published in the Journal of Research in Music Education indicates that the best pianists put a stronger focus on immediately fixing errors so they do not occur again. Comment: The argument is fairly persuasive because, as presented, it makes good logical sense (logos = logical appeal) and basically validates my personal experiences. The results of the studies on the musicians’ practices made the argument much more credible (ethos = ethical appeal) and convincing to me. In fact, I would have liked hearing about the studies in more detail. I liked the author’s use of the example of learning to play an instrument because I could relate to it (pathos = emotional appeal) and it made the argument more “real” for me. Perhaps, for the same reason, the article might be less interesting and compelling to someone without any formal musical experience. Discussion questions: • Have you found focusing on correcting errors to be a more effective

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