So far, we’ve created workable definitions for distinctions, micro-distinctions, and nested distinctions as they relate specifically to the rapid transfer of skill. But, why are distinctions of any stripe so important to the transfer of discrete, tangible skill sets, from expert to novice?
Given that a distinction is “the difference in value of a characteristic or property that makes an actual/realized difference in anticipated outcome,” it stands to reason that a skill set is the cumulative distinctions that have been made across the entire set of sub-skills that make up that entire skill sequence.
But simply knowing what to do, what distinctions to make, is not enough. In order for an individual to possess, to be able to actually execute that skill set, rather than simply possessing a theoretical understanding of it, they must not only make those distinctions, they must also methodically practice each and every one of them into their unconscious competence (see “Skill Transference vs Information Dump”). Therefore, all successful skill acquisition rests on making the full suite of appropriate distinctions and then methodically practicing them into the unconscious competence.
For example, you can theoretically know how to hit a nail with a hammer – someone can tell you how it’s done, you can read a dozen instructional manuals and you can watch countless YouTube videos – but until you have actually practiced all the various distinctions (swinging the hammer from the elbow, contacting the hammer head parallel to the head of the nail, etc) to the point of unconscious competence you cannot say that you actually possess the skill of driving a nail.
And here’s where the RSTP comes into play, dramatically flattening the learning, skill acquisition curve. When the expert uses the precise and methodical approach provided by RSTP to encode all the distinctions they’ve acquired over the years for a particular skill set, the novice is then able to sequentially and faithfully replicate that entire suite of distinctions.
My assertion is that, because the fine-grained distinctions that the expert makes are laid out so specifically and methodically, and in such exquisite detail, the student can literally “go through the motions” of acquiring the skill-set and actually acquire a 95% level of proficiency, and in 50% of the time with nearly 0% of the stress and anxiety associated with traditional skill transfer approaches.
Next, I’ll look at some of the common challenges associated with making the necessary distinctions for successful skill transference (see “Making Distinctions_Common Problems”) and how RSTP looks to solve those problems (see “What Sets RSTP Apart from Traditional Approaches”)