Friday, December 10, 2010

How to Avoid Choking

I have three final exams to inflict next week, so I found a recent article by Discover Magazine quite timely.  It cites research by Dr. Sian Beilock of the University of Chicago (who has dual doctorates from Michigan State University, so she must know whereof she speaks!), indicating that paying too much attention to what you are doing can cause your performance to deteriorate.  As a student of Tae Kwon Do and one of life's natural non-athletes, I can relate to this:  it often seems that the more I try to focus on the mechanics of a technique, the worse I do it (much like a baseball pitcher who "steers" pitches).

According to the article, Dr. Beilock
has found that test takers, speech givers, musicians, and top athletes fail in similar ways.
If this is indeed true, then shouldn't the students who pay little to no attention to what they are doing on their exams outperform their classmates?  I've got more than a few of them, and by and large their inattention is not paying off for them.

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