In my days as an assistant wrestling coach we used to tell our wrestlers that they needed to practice a move 10,000 times before it would become part of their muscle memory. In essence, practicing the move 10,000 times would increase a wrestler's ability on the mat. However, after reading the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I found that my old way of communicating that message was a bit flawed.
Gladwell states that research supports it takes 10,000 hours of practice before one can become an 'expert'. In his book he talks about three specific examples of this theory. Bill Joy, Bill Gates and the Beatles. In each case, these folks engaged in their area of expertise for 10,000 hours before they reached the pinnacle of their early careers.
So how does this relate to education. Students spend roughly seven hours per day in classroom instruction for 174 days. 7 hours x 174 days x 13 years = 15,834 hours of instruction. However, the example relates directly to practice not necessarily seat time. Therefore, we need to begin shifting our attention to finding ways for students to 'practice' or 'apply' their learning to engage the 'expert' status.
Although this blog entry will not solve the gaps in student learning, I hope for it to start a conversation.