Friday, April 25, 2008

"Knowledge" vs. "Knowing"

The minds of American children are now so stressed and crippled by Tiggerish wham-bam Video games, Television Shows, and Instant Left-Brain Computer Activities that many of them are unable to concentrate on anything for more than five minutes. As an ever-growing number of teachers are finding out, educating such minds is impossible. If something can't be immediately grasped, they won't understand it. And if it can be immediately grasped, they won't understand it either because Instant Information Accumulation is not understanding.
- Benjamin Hoff, The Te of Piglet

The willingness to do whatever it takes is infinately more important than knowing everything there is to know about how to do it.
- Dan Kennedy, No B.S. Business Success

The internet has certainly changed the face of strength and conditioning, and lifting weights in general. Prior to the 80s, the only people that went to gyms were a few very progressive thinking athletes and coaches, bodybuilders, and olympic weightlifters and powerlifters. By the mid-80s, most people that went to gyms were either going to an aerobics class or they were putzing around doing a lot of bench press and their knowledge was limited, more or less, to what they gleaned from "Flex" or "Muscle and Fitness", if that. Today, popular magazines like Men's Health can be found in waiting rooms and homes throughout the U.S., and thousands of young people on internet forums and in gyms can quote research abstracts, paraphrase Zatsiorsky, rattle off the percentages and band tensions necessary to implement a circa-maximal phase, and tell you the ins-and-outs of every supplement known to man... but does that help them? Are they training any more intelligently now than they were 20 years ago?

Despite the apparent abundance of information, I still see young people following ridiculous routines of 20+ sets and eight different exercises per bodypart, taking many of them to absolute failure and beyond, and training 5x/week with horrific technique. So what we have here is a world of knowledge at their fingertips but not enough experience to know how to apply it in any kind of practical manner. Similarly, some armchair strength athletes can cite muscle recruitment percentages for a myriad of exercises, but rarely recruit motor units themselves for much besides keyboard based events.

It's important to remember the crucial role that time and experience play in physical and mental development. Beginners don't need to take sets to absolute failure or work at intensities of 90% of their one repetition maximum. Most beginners don't need "phases" or "periodization" either, more importantly they need consistency and attention to form.


Catherine Imes said...

Nice Post Boris. I think there is an extreme deficit of not only attention but patience!

There is to much of an immediage gratification mindset with todays youth and young adults, part of it is because of technology.

Boris said...

Thank you Catherine. I don't know exactly where it comes from, but yeah technology is definately part of it.

Snizshizzle said...

Sorry but I'm going to go on a rant for a little bit here.

"The minds of American children are now so stressed and crippled by Tiggerish wham-bam Video games, Television Shows, and Instant Left-Brain Computer Activities that many of them are unable to concentrate on anything for more than five minutes."

There is some truth to this but I think the reasons for children unable to concentrate is much deeper. I believe genetics and how a child is raised in their younger years plays a much bigger role.

I was playing video games quite often since I was 3 years old. Now I would go out and play sports but I would play video games just as much and I credit my ability to concentrate and intelligence today to these video games. All of my friends who play a decent amount of video games tend to be more focused while the ones who don't are always anxious and can't concentrate. They also tend to do worse in school.

There have been scientific studies that have shown that video games actually aid in the mental development of young children.

When raising a child, its is important to get them excited about learning early. Playing chess regularly with my dad did wonders for my concentration and got me more interested in puzzles and brain-teaser books.

It is unfair to blame the growing technology for today's lack of concentration in children today. Technology is opening up a whole new area for the development of the future generations to come.

Boris said...

I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one Shizzle. How many hours a day or week that a child spends in front of a screen or monitor is pretty telling about how the child is raised IMO.

You say that your friends who play video games are focused and those that don't aren't? I really have not found that to be true at all.

Scientific studies... I'm quite certain we could find things on both sides of the fence on that.

In any case, the point of the post was not to demonize technology at all - I mean, look at the medium through which we are communicating.

Catherine Imes said...

I don't dislike technology. I've got a Masters degree in computer science. I don't blame the technology but it's application in some cases.

Let's face it. Sitting in front of a computer or video game for hours may aid in some facets of development, but it may be robbing from others depending on the individual. Kids are growing more and more sedentary. I believe they aren't developing social skills in some cases, i.e. skills for dealing with people.... Don't get me started about the desensitizing effects of some of the violent games (and I realize it's not just in the games but in movies and other mediums).

We can attribute other things to kids lack of concentration in addition to technology. Diet is horrible. They are drinking and eating horribly. Consequently, I believe that kids aren't sleeping as much as they should or not getting quality sleep (this is what I hear..I don't have kids).