This is a short post on learning. Influences here are classical liberal arts + Dr. Tallmon (rhetoric professor at PHC and Director of Debate, therefore my mentor and boss).

The process of human learning is simple but important to break down. It goes like this:

First: Understand the whole

Second: Break it into parts

Third: Study the parts

Fourth: Practice

Think of learning mathematics. Here’s your problem: build a rocket to the moon in 10 years. You being human, can’t just say “yep, okay, lemme get my maasssiivvee chalkboard out and start.” You break it into parts. You’re going to start with learning tools like chemistry, physics, calculus, aerodynamics, astronomy. You may need to break each of those into parts too (and you’ll practice them with problems, in say your math book)–like the quadratic formula, factoring wind, inertia, gravity, and so on.

You’ll have to learn each of these pieces and practice smaller projects (labs at college, say) to understand each of them. And you gradually learn all the parts. Then you put them together to build the rocket.

So apply this to debate. If I tell you “learn debate” that’s not really approachable until you understand the problem enough to know some of the pieces. Break it into those pieces (basic large ones: theory, strategy, knowledge, presentation). Break each of those pieces into smaller bites and approach them systematically. Practice each part (i.e. 4-pt refutation) until it becomes habit and you don’t have to think through this “process” any longer. Then assemble those parts.

Thus you incrementally grow in your abilities, don’t forget them b/c you have practiced until they are habit, and so on.

More here from Dr. Tallmon’s *Rhetoric Ring*

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