Thinking Space - Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

Notes & Quotes

Naïve, Purposeful & Deliberate Practice
  • Naïve Practice - Just doing 10,000 hours will get you there
  • Purposeful Practice - "Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress." Purposeful practice is NOT deliberate practice.
    • Well-defined, specific goals (i.e., play a piano piece all the way through at the proper speed without mistakes three times in a row).
    • Focus: Give the task your full attention.
    • Feedback: You need feedback — either from yourself or from outside observers — to identify where and how you are falling short.
    • Getting out of your comfort zone: This is perhaps the most important part of purposeful practice; you must push yourself beyond what is familiar and comfortable. Generally the solution is not “try harder” but “try differently” by finding ways around barriers.
  • Deliberate Practice -
    • “it requires a teacher who can provide practice activities designed to help improve performance … In particular, deliberate practice is informed and guided by the best performers’ accomplishments and by an understanding of what these expert performers do to excel.”
    • Find a mentor/teacher - you need their expertise, their pedagogical content knowledge, their tacit knowledge, their feedback, their example, and hopefully motivation
      • helps you visualize the right way to do something - this helps you detect and correct mistakes
      • does increased pck come from making the teachers learning to make tacit knowledge more explicit?
    • Beak down particular aspects of skills for development towards the overall performance goal - teacher has Pedagogical Content Knowledge specific to genre and certain pieces
      • Which scales and exercises have been codified over time because they work and which are just done more out of habit?
  • Get outside your comfort zone
    • Repetition is not expertise
    • "Hard" fun - "Dan Coyle says you only want to be succeeding in 50-80% of your attempts. Less than that and you’ll get frustrated. More than that and you’re not pushing yourself."
    • Work on your weak/hard parts
      • Focus
      • Feedback
      • Fix it
    • Use S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific)
  • A way to monitor your progress (not underestimating your growth for some or on some days and not overestimating your skill for others or on other days)
  • Maintain Motivation


  • How to Become Great at Just About Anything
    • "Exactly. We actually find that with the right kind of training, any individual will be able to acquire abilities that were previously viewed as only attainable if you had the right kind of genetic talent."
    • "Purposeful practice is when you actually pick a target — something that you want to improve — and you find a training activity that would allow you to actually improve that particular aspect. Purposeful practice is very different from playing a tennis game or if you’re playing basketball scrimmages. Because when you’re playing, there’s really no target where you’re actually trying to change something specifically and where you have the opportunity of repeating it and actually refine it so you can assure that you will improve that particular aspect."
    • Deliberate practice requires a teacher that actually has had experience of how to help individuals reach very high levels of performance _ Pedagogical Content Knowledge
    • You need feedback and clear criterion
    • "Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.”
    • "If you’re just doing the same thing over and over, you’re not going to prepare yourself for dealing with a complicated situation." The problem with many sports practices. Mirco had a fitness component, soccer skill, and a thinking/decision making component in each drill.
    • Not just 10,000 hours of practice, 10,000 hours of deliberate practice
  • Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class
    • How does this relate to Mazur's Flipped Teaching?
    • Can both skill and knowledge be equally affected by deliberate practice? "Deliberate practice is all about the skills. You pick up the necessary knowledge in order to develop the skills; knowledge should never be an end in itself. Nonetheless, deliberate practice results in students picking up quite a lot of knowledge along the way." p. 250
  • Practice Makes Possible: What We Learn By Studying Amazing Kids
  • Notes From A Former 'Guitar Zero'
  • What Research Says About the Relationship Between Practice and Expertise
  • Grit & Thinking Space - Grit


  • Can a computer's feedback be accurate enough to help with deliberate practice? Can the computer count as a knowledgeable teacher for some skills?
  • Feedback - At what stage can a learner provide feedback to themselves? Is this where having mental models from experts can help even if they are not there to provide feedback?
  • Models - Can YouTube or any audio recording be close to as good as a teacher/model? It is not interactive, but it can be watched/listened to over and over, just certain parts, or even slowed down. What if the student records their own rendition to compare to the "expert'" rendition? - Soccer tricks/skills, guitar tutorials
  • Creativity - How does this relate to deliberately practicing music composition or writing lyrics? To making "creative" decisions in a soccer game?
  • How does deliberate practice work with creativity and improvisation?
  • What is the connection to deliberate practice and a flow state?
  • Teachers are not always with you in person. What techniques, tools, etc. can a learner use to bootstrap themselves? Won't these skills be necessary for a learner to ever surpass their teacher or to create new techniques, songs, genre?