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Understanding + Practice= Mastery

Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE, Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, talked about this in her editorial published in The Wall Street Journal:

"Conceptual understanding will only get a student so far. True experts have a profound conceptual understanding of their field," Dr. Oakley says, "but the expertise built the profound understanding, not the other way around."

Repetition is the catalyst which allows understanding to become mastery.  Through repetition, kids increase their ability to retain and easily recall information.  Current "Common Core" standards can put too much emphasis on the "aha!" moments and not nearly enough emphasis on repeating skills until mastery (fluency) is attained.

Dr. Oakley also notes studies showing that repetition and practice actually change fundamental nerual architecture. In other words, all of this practice is building better brains: brains that can learn more quickly, retain more information, and achieve a level of mastery well beyond that of those who do not practice and repeat what they have learned. Kumon worksheets, while not always wildly popular, are a key in your student's journey roward academic mastery.

Dr. Oakley concludes, "Understanding is key.  But not superficial, light bulb moment understanding..true and deep understanding comes with teh mastery gained through practice."