Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Keeping a log book.

In my last post, I wrote a bit about unintentional discoveries that come up when you start dissecting techniques and hyung. If you're anything like me, short term memory can be a very fickle thing. I rarely remember things people tell me, yet will retain information I've read or written for years. Writing down things I want to remember has served me well, whether it was remembering random AP History facts, conjugating French and Spanish verbs, or anything else. Once written, the facts are more permanently retained, with the luxury of having a backup later.

When I started to take my Tang Soo Do training more seriously, I realized that I was often forgetting details because they were being transmitted orally. Being my worst way to remember things, I decided that it was time to start keeping a journal. At the end of class, I would write down things which I found interesting.

The results of this are somewhat fascinating for several reasons. First is that I managed to write down a few things that I'm grateful for: anecdotes, background info, technical tips. I almost certainly would have forgotten these things rather quickly. Going through my journal, I am reminded of "neat" drills to revive for another class.

About a year ago, I was asked to chair a gup testing in Dayton for a fellow instructor. In preparing for the test, I looked back at my notes and found a set of combinations that I'd learned a few years ago. Coincidentally, these drills were devised by none other than my host's instructor. When I typed up these drills and gave them to the conductor, it was a memorable moment for the instructor when he realized what was being demonstrated. Consequently, these drills have been revived.

Another benefit: not only was I writing down what others told me, but my own random thoughts and ideas. Nothing worse than coming up with a seminar or lesson idea while sitting in traffic or on the bus. My notebook is littered with random combinations to try on unsuspecting students.
An unintentional advantage is that I can see how my understanding and processing of new information has changed over the years. It's interesting to see something written down that now is obvious and natural. But it only became that way to me because I felt it necessary to write down and practice later. That same lesson could have been potentially forgotten over time.

The biggest problem is over time, you will probably neglect your journal. While it would be nice to have a pocket reference of every class I've taught over the last 5 years, I only have little snippets. A week here or there. Imagine if I'd developed enough personal discipline to keep better track of these things. Oh well, there's always a goal to aim for.

So get a notebook. I like the spiral-ringed mini-notebooks, but I also like the pocket-sized Moleskine. If you're plugged in, a PDA will work as long as you back it up, or you could be a Luddite and go with the "Hipster PDA." Write things down! Then test them and share them.
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