This is part of a series of blogs that focuses on the attitudes of mind, behaviours and actions that a person can use to be successful at an English course. It’s practical stuff that, if applied, will have a practical effect – success in English. The blogs can be found under the category ‘Passing Higher English’ or on Twitter at #passingEnglish.
Tae Kwon Do, a martial that originates from Korea, contains a useful lesson in how to pass Highers. Did you know that Tae Kwon Do breaks down into 7 basic moves? These 7 basic moves are the foundation of all progress in this martial art, and all practitioners, from the master to the beginner will focus on practicing these basic moves. No matter how far you advance in Tae Kwon Do, you’ll still be practising these 7 moves. There’s an important lesson here for passing Highers. Repetition, the continued repeating of a skill, is how you become good at that skill; so good, in fact that, you never have an off-day.
You know how sometimes you might do an essay, or a maths sum, or a physics calculation and it’s badly done or just wrong. Yet you’d done it well or correctly the week before. That’s a sign that you haven’t practised enough yet. When you continually practice, you don’t have off-days, or, if you do, an off-day still contains a level of performance that allows you to achieve any grade. That’s because you’re so well practiced, like the Tae Kwon Do master, that your level of perfomance is still beyond most people’s excellent days. This is what being a master means.
Where does Jose Mourinho fit into all of this? Well, he provides a lesson in something called marginal returns. At the age when most people sit Highers, and with all the competing pressures that surround you, you’re unlikely to becomes a master of a subject. You won’t be a master of biology even if you get an ‘A’. Becoming a master takes years. However, in your Highers you’re not being asked to be a master, you’re being asked to show you can study, learn and prove it! Applying the techniques of mastery – repetition of basic skills continually – will help you do this. The next question has to be: what skills do I practise?
This is where Jose Mourinho comes in. He is the best exponent in football of the idea of marginal returns. This means that you have to find the important things your team does and do them better than the other team. So, you have to be able to get 10 corners in a game and stop the opposition getting any, and you’ll have a better chance of winning. If you can stop the opponent’s star player from completing 40 passes and your star player completes 50 then you’ve a better chance of winning. Mourinho focuses on what his team can do and maximises it to improve the chances of winning. It’s the same with Highers.
Take Higher English Close Reading. Say you’re struggling with it and the problem is vocabulary. Ok, you cannot go out and learn all the words in the English language, but you can make sure you know exactly how to answer a link question and a context question. You can makes sure if you have a 3 mark understanding question you put down 3 points. You can make sure that you answer all analysis questions using the correct formula and you can makes sure that you fully summarise the passage’s main ideas at the end. You learn the areas you can effect and then you practise, practise, practise.
When you do that – you maximise your chances to get the grade you want.
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