Four Instructional Methods
In our Integral Learning Learning™ series, we've explored (here) the the four types of learning—(1) Natural & Implicit, (2) Natural & Knowable, (3) Cultural & Complex, and (3) Cultural & Controllable. We've also explored the two questions we can use to discern which type of learning we're dealing with:
"Do whatever rules that
govern this activity primarily
(a) prescribe or (b) describe
what learners do?"
This question helps us differentiate between natural and normal (or cultural) learning.
"Taking the learner's
prior knowledge into
account, how manageable
is what we're learning?"
This question helps us discern how complex a student likely perceives the learning at hand.
When rules primarily describe, we do well to seek out exploratory activities like science demonstrations, outdoor education programs, children's theater, or community agencies like the YMCA.
When rules primarily prescribe, as they do for the normal (or cultural) components of phonics and reading, we must recognize that we can't escape cultural elements of the leanring. Thus, rather than trying to minimize culture, we do well to make cultural contributions explicit: we let students know the sounds that each letter or letter combination can make, for instance. And we let them practice predicting the "next word" in sentences to build cultural, contextual awareness.
When a learner seems to perceive as complex an activity for which rules primarily prescribe, it's often necessary to mediate the experience one-on-one—to use movement and manipulatives in math, for instance, until something "clicks" enough for us to move on. If a learner brings a teachable spirit and sufficient background to such an activity, on the other hand, we can consider the activity controllable and, through training or direct instruction, we can make the presentation as clear and concise as possible.
Where to Start
In essence, we can start teaching from #4, below, then work backward if a learner gets confused—and all learners, at some point, get confused.
Ultimately, it's important to discern what kind(s) of learning an activity calls for, because doing so helps us choose the most efficient instructional strategies available: whatever is natural in an activity, we can use to hone sensory perception, encourage "developmentally appropriate" movement—or, if we find ourselves unable to put words to what we're seeing, perhaps just let it incubate, with no formal instruction. Whatever is normal and controllable, on the other hand, we can train. And whatever is cultural and complex, we can mediate:
When & Why?
– Criteria –
– Methods –
We often don't know or simply don't articulate rules that describe how we're interacting with it—sometimes because we believe (perhaps correctly) that explicit rules may hinder our learning. This type of learning is called…
We often experiment and explore, trying to understand how this kind of interaction works. Often, we stop exploring once (if asked) we could describe explicitly how this interaction works. This type of learning is called…
We rely on shared understandings of commitments and ways of communicating that can be clarified by prescriptive guidelines. Learning and using these guidelines to probe and abstract complex inter-relationships is called…
Apprenticeship (Mediated Learning)
We increase our power to manipulate parts of inter-relationships according to prescriptive rules that help us work toward mastery.
Skills Instruction & Training
Natural Learning & Exploration
Structure in the natural, biological realm is generally better conceived of as a tensegrity matrix than as a tower. From our cells to our skeletons, our "supports" are more like inter-connected dome tents than towering cathedrals. We're dynamic. We respond. Thus, the foundation for natural learning, especially, is as much about flexibility as about strength. Natural learning is, simply, learning that "just happens"—either as the result of exploration, discovery, and integration; or as a secondary result of normal learning.
I. We develop and maintain flexibility in our natural learning
A. When we regularly engage in activities that
1. Remind our nervous systems of increasingly familiar, comfortable sensations, and
2. Help restore and expand our awareness and function, through exploration gentle, varied combinations of those sensations;
B. And when we can recall and use those activities in moments of stress to
1. Remind us of the "big picture," as we become fully present to the moment, and
2. Help restore our awareness of the "felt sense" (the nous), so we can discern what's most important in the moment.
C. This kind of flexibility is one of the basic purposes HANDLE® and Open Focus (exploring and integrating perception); of Out-of-the-Box Thinking (living true); of breathing explorations (sensing rhythmic flows); and of Focusing ("feeling" for meaning).
II. We develop and maintain strength in our natural learning when we go about our everyday lives, when we exercise, when we daydream, when we push our bodies in sports, when we push our minds in inventing, and when we push against the limits we know in exploration. This variety is the heart of natural strengthening.
III. When natural learning seems controllable, it sometimes is—and it's often not. From social outings to summertime play, natural learning thrives on change—and change is generally tough to control. Trying to prevent change is a sure way to squelch natural learning. Corralling change, however, can be quite fruitful.
IV. It's not essential that we abandon our efforts to control natural processes—some control is good. Nor is it essential that we adopt a "back to nature" approach to learning and living—starting with culture can be fine. What is essential is that we listen to what natural processes are "telling" us, and that we not assume that undesirable experiences are necessarily the result of being "broken."
A. We never get away from culture. Even the ways we think of our attitudes and the emotions that contribute to them have cultural components. We think in concepts shaped by language and culture.
B. Nevertheless, our cultural defaults are not always helpful. Many times, undesirable experiences are the result of working (i.e., correctly functioning) natural systems that reject inputs that they are unable to process while maintaining healthy balance (homeostasis). Thus, it's essential that we not assume, automatically, that undesirable experiences are (oh! of course!) the result of something being "broken." If we fault our bodies and use drugs to suppress symptoms, we risk suppressing the working (i.e., correctly functioning) systems themselves.
Normal, Controllable Learning & Training
I. Controllable learning is, simply, learning over which a teacher can maintain extensive control. When controllable curricula is used for large groups, it is often called "direct instruction." When controllable curricula is used for a single student, it is often called "training."
A. To the degree any curriculum is controllable, teachers can use it to help students respond more quickly, more easily, and with greater accuracy.
B. To do so, teachers must provide
1. Clear and direct instruction
2. Prompt, accurate feedback and encouragement, and
3. Additional challenges every time a student demonstrates competence and a willingness to continue.
C. For highly controllable curriculum to be used this way, the skills it requires and develops must be rigorously sequenced.
1. Foundational skills must largely be in place before exercising tight control over the "basic skills" like reading, writing, and arithmetic that require them.
2. The curriculum used to teach basic skills must itself unfold sequentially.
D. Examples of controllable learning include
1. Sports and physical Games
2. Basic Skills
4. Relationship Skills, namely
3. Controllable training games
a. Flash Cards (for any subject) or 24 Game (for math)
b. Scripture Memory (Click here for a program that makes this controllable.)
c. Processing And Cognitive Enhancement (PACE)
The sections that follow are, in essence, an outline course in how to train. Each section points out an essential element of training (based on the acronym R E L I E F through Training."), then offers pointers to facilitate effective training.
R E L I E F through Training
II. What are specific strategies we can use to maximize the benefit of controlled learning?
1. Encourage a "best fit" response
given the time available.
Remember: "Tis no time like the present."
2. Don't expect or encourage
Remember: "If you aren't finding success… double your failure rate!"
1. Know what "Excellence" will look like.
2. Have a clear standard… that takes time constraints into account.
C. Looking Ahead
1. Develop a predictive habit: Ask, "What's next?"
2. This is especially crucial for reading comprehension.
1. Be purposeful; have a goal in mind.
2. Have the next objective ready every time a student demonstrates competence and a willingness to continue. Well-sequenced curricula, which use the "Direct Instruction" methodology so appropriate for "normal + controllable" learning opportunities, often handle this for you.
E. Expect Fall-Off… & Compensate
a. Mediated learning can produce "divergent gains," in which learners' abilities continue to grow after instruction.
b. Training usually produces "convergent gains"—A loss of 15–50% of the "edge" you've gained is typical when you stop practicing.
c. Thus, when working with "normal + controllable" phenomena, it's important to over-learn.
2. Review. Daily. Purposefully. It's essential to review what you've been learning.
3. Remember: "Tis better to sweat in peace than die in war." Practice the skills and character you want to display.
R E L I E F through Training
F. Feedback (3 Characteristics of Feedback for Direct Instruction)
1. Prompt: Feedback should happen as soon after a triumph or mistake as possible
2. Precise: Feedback should highlight specific actions a learner took (or didn't take).
a. General praise like "Great job!" is a lot easier to dismiss than specific praise like "46 out of 50 right—in only 60 seconds. That's quite an accomplishment, Jeff!"
b. Inauthentic praise like "Great job!" when a student didn't do well is even worse. Soon, a child stops trusting a praise-happy parent or instructor's perspectives and looks elsewhere—peers or other adults—for feedback.
a. Not too intense: When brief, intense feedback is rare, it's often very effective—we "store" it in memory; we move on with the learning; and we mull over the intense feedback later. When brief, intense feedback is common, or when very intense feedback lasts for more than a few seconds, it usually builds resentment, destroys rapport, and diminishes learning. (This is why resentment, difficulty feeling loved, and slower learning are common effects of frequent spanking.)
b. Not too long in duration. Lengthy feedback generally detracts from time that could be spent learning or practicing the "normal + controllable" material.
c. Not identity-based. Achieving something doesn't make a person a success. Failing doesn't make a person a failure. Negative, identity-based feedback has unpredictable effects: some students rise to the challenge of "proving otherwise," while other students conclude the negative assessment "must be right." Positive, identity-based feedback has more predictable effects: it improves "self-esteem" but simultaneously lowers productive risk-taking. Students reason—sometimes conscious, sometimes not: "If my success proves I smart… then if I fail, it proves I'm ______." (See "The Inverse Power of Praise.")
R E L I E F through Training (1)
G. Task Loading
1. Mechanism of Task Loading
a. What is "Task Loading," and how does it work? In general, you can increase the intensity, direction, or frequency of a task to force a skill to become a habit. When we "load" a task, the easiest aspects of it become habit much more quickly than they would without task loading.
b. Q: Is there anything that would make "Task Loading" not work… or worse yet, backfire?
A: Yes; it is vital to balance the increased "task load" (i.e., the level of challenge) with the learner's natural sensory needs. Watch for State Changes!
2. Task Loading & Cognitive Override
a. We can be very stressed, very on-edge, very maxed out, but to achieve function, we suppress awareness of how maxed out we are.
b. This is a near-universal phenomenon. We can all point to times in our lives when we have "sucked it up" and done what needs to be done. This is called "cognitive override" or "mind over matter." If we were to stop doing something just because doing it (or learning how to do it) is uncomfortable, we wouldn't get a lot done (or learn how to do much) unless…. The "unless" generally doesn't occur to us, since we have come to accept cognitive override as normal.
c. Some degree of cognitive override is normal, but we're not meant to live there. The "unless" is important: If we were to stop doing something just because doing it (or learning how to do it) is uncomfortable, we wouldn't get a lot done (or learn how to do much) …unless we developed the ability to briefly stop, precisely target whatever internal mechanisms have been creating the difficulties we're experiencing, calm those mechanisms, and then in as short a time as possible, return to the original learning experience.
1) In order to to this, we would need to become aware of the earliest moments that our physiological stress responses are being triggered so we can respond before our stress responses accumulate and become overwhelming.
2) We would, secondarily, need to become aware of which sensory-motor systems were stressed.
3) Thirdly, we would need to learn and employ activities that would address the needs of those systems. Very few people have developed this knowledge.
HANDLE® facilitates each of these goals.
R E L I E F through Training (2)
G. Task Loading (Continued)
3. There are seven wave characteristics to any learning opportunity. The characteristics mentioned in the previous section are the most commonly "tweaked" to "load" a task, but you can vary any of these:
a. Novelty… Surprise!
b. Intensity… How much can I handle? (Make it more intense… without overwhelming the learner! (Watch for State Changes.)
c. Direction/Purpose… Consider using a metronome.
d. Frequency: Consider movement.
e. Duration: Longer tasks build perseverance, but be prepared to reduce intensity & frequency.
f. Regularity: Varied regularity builds adaptation.
4. Note that Novelty is first on the above list. Novelty may be the single most powerful way to imprint something on our minds.
a. If I want to develop a habit, I may want to put myself in a situation in which the habit seems fresh everyday.
1) Developing the habit of Bible reading is easier when we dynamically, actively read the Scripture aloud each day: reading a whole chapter for context, then re-reading different verses, emphasizing different words. In doing this, we ensure that through this exercise, the Holy Spirit can quicken/enliven us to the newness and richness of life in the old texts of Scripture.
1) Though the texts are old, the insights are timeless: they're often new to us as we age, as our circumstances change, and as we perceive not new and different truths—but new and different applications of timeless truths.
b. Even if I don't want to acquire a habit, I am still likely to habituate to increased novelty.
1) Consider contemporary movies and television whose camera angles change more often than once every seven seconds. Perhaps we see something through one camera, and then we see something (perhaps the same thing, perhaps something different) through a different camera. Or, perhaps a camera quickly pans from one scene to another. Either way, we perceive from a radically different perspective.
2) When we watch contemporary movies or television, our brains are becoming accustomed to a very high rate of novelty—to having something new every six seconds, every five seconds, every three seconds, or in many advertisements, more often than once every second. Contrast this with most television made prior to the 1970s, or with Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Have you ever noticed how slow old programs seem?
There's a reason for this. In the 1970s, cameras and film were very expensive, and fewer were used for each filming. In addition, any drastic changes from one scene to another that were done after the fact required time-consuming cutting and splicing of film—what today takes only minutes with digital video could then take hours. For this reason, most concerns about older television and movies surround content.
Today, there are valid concerns to be raised about the medium itself: to the extent we expose ourselves to rates of novelty that exceed what everyday life can offer, it becomes more difficult for us to stay engaged with events of humdrum, everyday life.
Training & Our Need for Challenge
III. Our natural need for challenge
A. We need a challenge that is sufficient to engage us but insufficient to overwhelm us. In the absence of a sufficient challenge, we will deem hardship a major challenge and treat inconvenience as hardship.
B. Most people in North America do not experience an extreme level of hardship. Even our poor have, in general, a higher standard of living than the rich do in most of the rest of the world. We don't yet have bombs falling around us, destroying our homes, schools, churches, and civic institutions. Few among us have to carry weapons of deadly force regularly to ensure survival. We aren't yet persecuted to the point of torture and death for a common faith.
C. Most people in North America find ourselves, more often than we'd like to admit, "making mountains out of molehills." This is true on a physical level, as well: as our use of disinfectants has spread, our immune systems have grown bored—and sometimes turned against themselves, creating sufficient challenge in the form of allergies, cancers, and auto-immune dysfunctions.
D. We all need challenges—but not too much. Academically, drop a second grader in an algebra class, and he's likely to get conceptually lost, give up, and refuse to try. He'd be overwhelmed. Alternatively, rarely challenge him in math, and he's likely to conclude it's boring—and put forth less than his all.
E. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what's likely to happen to students whose entertainment involves high rates of novelty and whose academics don't require work arduous enough to require occasional help: they're likely to magnify the difficulty of school work (seeing it as more daunting than it is) and seek the ease of electronic entertainment (plus the high rate of novelty to which they've habituated). If they keep this up (as many do), their natural motivation to put forth effort to learn is likely to atrophy quickly.
Normal, Complex Learning & Mediation
I. Normal, complex learning is, simply, learning over which a skilled teacher would be hard-pressed to maintain extensive control: the subject matter has many facets. It requires careful, deliberate evaluation, rather than a quick response.
A. In the primary grades, a teacher can often model this careful, deliberate response and then check students' understanding, having essentially made the instruction controllable.
B. Sometimes, however, it's just not clear where a student's conceptual difficulties lie—especially if a student isn't successfully copying an instructor's careful, deliberate modeling. For students who need additional coaching, and especially for older students, mediated learning becomes essential.
II. What is "Mediated Learning?": Almost every parent is familiar with mediated learning, just not by the title "mediated learning." You're probably familiar with it, too. Mediated learning is any experience in which a mentor helps a learner understand what is most important, recall relevant strategies the learner already knows, learn new strategies as necessary, evaluate the usefulness of strategies for the experience at hand, apply efficient strategies to solve problems, then "bridge" to other times in life when the learner may want to apply such strategies to be successful. (You may want to re-read, even memorize, these stages.)
A. In "Mediated Learning," the teacher/trainer/elder helps the learner make sense of complexity.
1. Metaphorically, the teacher/trainer/elder "stands between" the learner and the learning experience. (S)he mediates the learning opportunity.
2. The learner's interaction with the game is mediated by the teacher/trainer/elder.
B. The teacher/trainer/elder lends perspective, which generally comes through life experience; she provides a shortcut, so the student doesn't have to "learn the hard way."
III. Mediated Learning & "Mini versions of the real thing"
A. The complexity of "real life" can be difficult to mediate.
1. Learning experiences in "real life" have so many aspects, it's tough for the mediator to figure out in the moment which aspects he himself (or she herself) is paying attention to. A mediator must be able to discern what (s)he is paying attention to so (s)he can direct the learner's attention to the same thing.
2. Learning experiences in "real life" have so many aspects, it's tough for the mediator to discern in the moment the learning experience's salient features; i.e., which aspects of the learning experience, if the learner attends to them, will empower him/her to make the most difference with the least amount of effort.
a. Salient features are noticeable, once a learner knows what look for.
b. Salient features provide a learner leverage—the most "bang for the buck."
B. Since "real life" learning experiences are so difficult to mediate (especially for inexperienced mediators who are getting used to the process), using "mini versions of the real thing" often helps.
1. Abstract strategy games are primary examples of "mini versions of the real thing." When we create a game, we give it rules. These rules are a subset of the rules of life. Hence, we call games microcosms: small universes unto themselves, reductions of the "real thing."
2. Most games automatically trigger consequences as part of a structured learning experience. They thus mirror descriptive and/or prescriptive rules that govern our everyday lives. It's the job of a mediator to help a student see these rules, until the student can notice the rules in (a) a different game and (b) real life and can state the rules explicitly.
IV. On a macrocosmic level, mediated learning ideally produces wisdom: a learner's response become more thoughtful, mature, and effective. On a microcosmic level, mediated learning ideally produces engagement: a learner culls the learning experience for meaning.
A. Ideally, as a learner experiences more and more mediated learning, (s)he needs less and less help discerning what's important (salient features) and how to approach the learning opportunity (strategic thinking), as (s)he can discern what's important and which strategies to use on his/her own.
B. No one, however, moves beyond benefitting from outside perspective (peer mediation).
The sections that follow are, in essence, an outline course in how to mediate. Each section points out an essential element of mediated learning, then offers pointers to facilitate effective mediation.
Power of the Game
IV. Power of the Game
A. First Purpose of a Microcosm: To direct learner's attention toward particular aspects of reality.
1. The learner can then develop
strategies to deal with those aspects of reality.
WARNING: Detailed or realistic themes limit transferability of strategies.
2. Themes help constrain the learner's attention to rules & application of strategies to the game itself.
3. Without this principle, we'd be in even more trouble from video games.
B. Choosing a Microcosm
1. Consider… would training be best? (If this can be controlled, does a different objective—like having fun—outweigh the extra time invested in mediated learning?)
2. Consider… what kind of microcosm will I choose?
a. Often, you have a choice.
b. The more you practice mediating learning intentionally, the more it often crops up inadvertently—in which case you can work with whatever "teachable moment" you have.
3. Principle 1: Choose a microcosm without a theme.
a. Abstract strategy games
b. Academic games
c. Party games
4. Principle 2: Choose a microcosm with rules you want to emphasize or with challenges that require strategies you want a learner to develop.
5. Principle 3: Choose a microcosm that's that matches learners'
a. Interests, to help ensure each learner remains engaged
b. Abilities, to help ensure no learner is overwhelmed, and
c. Deficits, to help ensure learning. The microcosm should be sufficiently complex to require thought… and perhaps a little bit of help.
Power of Play
V. Power of Play
A. Second Purpose of a Microcosm: To direct a learner's attention away from an instructional process.
1. The learner learns… often without realizing (s)he's learning.
2. Learning while one isn't focused on the instructional process often facilitates deep "ah-ha!" moments that can resonate for weeks. This is known as the "Power of Play."
B. Principle 1: Provide a supportive context.
1. Especially, allow think time.
2. The more complex the microcosm, the more think time you ought to allow.
3. In fact, you may want to encourage learners to say respectfully, "Just a moment… let me think" if they ever perceive you're rushing them.
C. Principle 2: Provide organizing concepts.
1. How can the learner make sense of this game?
2. Use and define words like
a. Parallel, Perpendicular
b. Diagonal, Horizontal
c. Square, Rectangle, Circle, Oval, Ellipse
d. Right angle, acute angle, obtuse angle
3. Never sell a learner short—provide accurate organizing concepts, even if they seem "beyond" the learner's "potential."
This is especially true of children with Down's Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, since many never develop organizing concepts naturally, without mediation—but they can often use concepts they've been helped to discover and apply.
D. Principle 3: Provide examples and counter-examples to ensure a learner understands organizing concepts.
1. Example: Square vs. Rectangle, Oval vs. Ellipse
2. It's okay if this takes a while. I've spent 45 minutes helping a student understand the difference between a square and rectangle. I've spent well over an hour helping a student understand the difference between a maternal and paternal grandpa.
3. As long as you have a learner's interest, if (s)he' still unclear, take whatever time you can give: you're teaching him/her to think.
Power of the Instrument
VI. Power of the Instrument
A. Third Purpose of a Microcosm: To direct a learner's attention away from the instructor.
1. This facilitates perception of own competence and, ultimately, divergent gains.
2. This is known as the "Power of the Instrument."
B. Principle 1: Ask only questions you believe the learner can answer without directive cues. (Directive cues = "helpful hints," which often end up focusing a learner's attention on the instructor.)
C. Principle 2: Tell only what needs to be told to ask a question.
1. If a game requires a skill that can be trained, consider training it first!
D. Principle 3: Ask focusing questions to direct a learner's attention.
1. Struggle is okay.
a. Getting overwhelmed, ideally, can be avoided.
b. In the absence of State Changes, encourage: don't give up! (State Changes are signs of neurological strain. They include reddening of the ears, ± change in facial muscle tone, change in facial color (especially paling), holding breath, chest breathing (vs. diaphragmatic breathing), ± change in pupil size, headache, dizziness, chest pains, sudden sensitivities to light or smell, or sudden decrease in performance on an activity. Shortly after you see a State Change, if the State Change persists for more than a few seconds… STOP!)
2. Ask, "Are you sure?"—even when the learner is correct. This imbues the learner with confidence and directs the learner's attention away from your approval as "the" important sign (s)he's doing okay.
Power of Complexity
VII. Power of Complexity
A. General Observations
1. Complexity requires strategic approaches.
2. Complexity requires evaluation of the applicability of these approaches/ strategies.
3. Complexity requires re-evaluation of the relative successes of different approaches.
B. Principle 1: Narrate your own strategic thinking processes—frequently in life, intermittently during game play.
C. Principle 2: Inquire about a learner's strategies.
They use them, even if they have difficulty articulating them—or even if their current strategies don't make sense.
D. Principle 3: Suggest possible strategies.
1. Make a habit of suggesting possible strategies even when a student's current strategies are better than those you're suggesting.
2. Again, this imbues the learner with confidence and encourages him/her to use his/her own strategies to tackle complex learning situations.
Power of Bridging
VIII. Power of Bridging
A. How can you get those "Ah-ha" moments to transfer to "real life"—how can you ensure transfer of awareness of rules and practice of strategies from the microcosm to the macrocosm?
B. Principle 1: Recognize similarities between the macrocosm and microcosm; then use the same techniques in real-life that you used during the game:
1. Power of Play *Review*
a. Allow think-time (supportive context)
b. Provide organizing concepts
c. Provide examples & counter-examples
2. Power of Instrument *Review*
a. Ask only questions you believe the learner can answer without directive cues.
b. Tell only what needs to be told to ask a question. (If you need to teach, teach—don't keep the learner guessing.)
c. Ask focusing questions.
1) Recognize that some things are overwhelming, and encourage perseverance.
2) Ask, "Are you sure?"—even when the learner seems right.
3. Power of Complexity *Review*
a. Narrate your own thinking processes. (This is especially true if your child has Down's Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.)
b. Inquire about the learner's strategies.
c. Suggest possible strategies—even inferior ones.
C. Principle 2: Ask, "In what ways is this game like life?"
1. Think about the macrocosm–microcosm relationship you're working with.
2. Remember the rules & strategies you've been working on.
3. Ask the learner to connect them.
4. Be open to bizarre answers—and to trying a different microcosm another day.
D. Principle 3: Make a point to reference the game later, when the macrocosm or an opportunity to use the same strategies arises in everyday life.
Practice Makes… Permanent!
As you teach and learn, remember that practice makes… not perfect… but permanent. The question is: what do you want to make permanent?
• Classifying learning and choosing which methods are best for the occasion takes practice.
• Effective mediating takes practice, too.
• You won't get it 100% "right" 100% of the time, and that's fine. Every "failure" is an opportunity to learn… and to model learning to others. You may find it helpful to remind yourself, "This isn't a failure… it's feedback!"
If you do get discouraged, you may appreciate this three-stage method for "attitude adjustment." The "Declare – Ask – Act As If" method is also a good example of an approach that effectively incorporates both normal and natural learning, without giving preference to one over the other.
I. Declare: Proclaim what you hope for in present-tense language, and proclaim it often. Declare, for instance, "I'm reliable; I finish what I start when I say I will, and I re-negotiate commitments as soon as I realize I can't finish on time." Consider putting key declarations on index cards and placing them where you'll see and read them several times a day. Read them aloud if you can.
A. Listen to your body as you declare. If your "felt sense" communicates that this "feels right"—that this desired outcome, though future, is real enough to beckon your present experience toward it, great: you're finished until the next time you declare it!
B. If your "felt sense" whispers "liar… liar… liar" when you're proclaiming what you hope for—or in any way undercuts your declaration, proceed to Step 2:
A. Ask the Lord: Learn what He says in Scripture by reading the Bible, in addition to carefully prepared resources that explain what Scripture says.
B. Ask yourself:
1. To keep your subconscious (Biblical language: nous) focused on your desired outcome, develop a habit of asking yourself questions that are difficult to answer. Your subconscious/heart will try to find an answer and thereby keep your focus on what you desire. You can do this by burying your desired outcome in a clause buried behind one of these phrases:
a. In what ways… (For example: In what ways do I feel great right now? or In what ways will I benefit from giving up coffee?)
b. How… (For example: How might my sense of well-being increase ten-fold today? or How will I enjoy finishing my broccoli?)
c. I wonder how… (For example: I wonder how soon I'll be surprised by joy today.)
2. Asking these kinds of questions can be particularly helpful for countering temptation. Let's say you feel tempted to yell. How often can you think quickly enough to ask yourself: "How will I benefit from not yelling?" or "In what ways will my family feel loved when I speak softly, instead of yelling?"
3. Also, try to daily answer such questions as "In what ways might I move if I were already joyful?" and "How will I act as I become aware of how joyful I already am?" In forming your questions and answers, consider the six aspects of energy (six characteristics of waves)—Novelty, Intensity, Direction/Purpose, Frequency, Duration, and Regularity:
a. Novelty: With surprise at the newness of life!
b. Intensity—Letting my yes be Yes! and my no No!
c. Direction/Purpose: With gusto!
d. Frequency: Again, I choose to practice being joyful.
e. Duration: I stay in the now.
f. Regularity: In what ways do I notice that which I hope for becoming reality already?
4. Ask others for help, and offer help to others.
III. Act As If: Simply choose to act as if you feel like you want to feel.
A. Smile—and see what happiness follows.
B. Walk—and feel your energy expand.
C. Talk with a friend—and feel more friendly.
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