Today in Assembly for years 7, 8 and 9 we spoke about the importance of practising. I produced a Rubik’s Cube and proceeded to tell the story of how, one summer when I was about 13 or so, I got very bored. I decided to do something productive so over the course of that summer I did 2 things: I taught myself to play the guitar using a chord chart and I bought a book that contained algorithms to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

I love playing the guitar and promised the pupils that they would see me play and sing before too long. Today though, my focus was the Rubik’s Cube. Having had the perfectly solved cube thoroughly muddled by one of the pupils it then took me about 3 minutes to solver the cube in front of the pupils. The round of applause I received was immense (in my head anyway) but it was a useful way to illustrate the point that “practice makes perfect”. I am only able to solve the cube because I have done it hundreds of times since I first learnt the algorithms all those years ago.

We then turned our attention to someone even more impressive. We watched a short clip of a young man called Austin Naber who is a world-record holding cup-stacker:

His skill is impressive and whilst one might question the time spent cup-stacking, is it any different to me learning the Rubik’s Cube algorithms when I was his age? The point for the pupils was, of course, that in practising something like this day in and day out, our brains become “hard-wired” to complete the tasks almost on automatic pilot. I explained briefly about how a sheath of myelin forms round axons in the brain as actions are repeatedly practised. You can learn more about that here if Biology is not your thing:

My challenge to the pupils was to think about something they are passionate about and to think about how much time they are prepared to spend practising it. I finished by telling them that I have just been given a saxophone and I promised them that I would practice it until I was able to stand up in front of them and play it. I wonder what they will be able to impress me with over the coming weeks and months? Practice makes prefect!

Pete Last

3rd March 2017