All things are strengthened only by effort.

Too often our limitations are set by what is easy.  Bible Quiz is only one way that we are encouraging the teens in Paola to join the Rebelution and do hard things.

That being said, we would be interested to know how Bible Quiz has stretched each of you so far.

The Secret to Breaking into the Top 10

The secret to breaking into the top 10 teams in one word is INTERRUPTION.  That is why breaking into the top 10 is so hard, interrupting a question seems impossible, but if we as a team want to go to the next level it is what we must do.  So let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals:

  1. Be Confident– You can not play your best if you are frustrated, scared, or angry, and the best way to play with confidence and a light heart is to know your material.  You don’t necessarily have to have every verse in a chapter memorized, but you do have to be confident with the material that you do know.  The way that the quiz is set up it is imperative that you not only know the words of your material but also the coordinates of that material.  Of course with the variety of books that we are quizzing in and the fact that some books have more questions asked from than others along with being confident you must also…
  2. Be Ready and Alert–  Especially if you don’t have every verse in a chapter memorized or have been assigned a chapter that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of questions it is of the utmost importance to keep yourself in the game and be able to recognize when they are questioning on one of your verses.  Then, when you know they have just identified one of the verses that you know you know you must also…
  3. Be Fearless– So let’s take a moment to see where we are:  You may not know everything, but what you know you KNOW without question and you recognize that the question is being asked about one of those that you know!  Now comes the hardest part… you have to jump before the question is finished.  And the number one obstacle between you and beating the other quizzers is going to be your own fear of failure.  So to break into the top ten you must…
  4. Risk Errors– This is perhaps the hardest part to believe but in order to go to the next level you have to be willing to quiz out backwards.  It is just a fact that no baseball player hits home runs without striking out sometimes, no quarter back throws touchdowns without throwing interceptions, no basketball player makes 100% of their shots, and sometimes 0 errors means 0 answers, especially when both teams you are facing are ranked higher than your team.  In fact one of the least understood stats in Bible quizzing is the error stat in general.  All of the teams in the top 10 have at least 9 more errors than our team, eight of the top thirty-four quizzers have twenty errors or more, and only 10 of the top thirty-four quizzers have ten or fewer.  I have observed that among those top teams they get more than their fair share of errors, but they are errors not based on knowing material, but based on failed interruption attempts.  And since practice makes perfect, the more you try interrupting questions the better you get and your individual errors drop.  But in the beginning more than likely your individual errors will rise, and you will have to be willing to increase your errors if you want to help bring the team into the top ten.

Can I trust the NT? part 5

ALOTOFTIMESWHENWETALKABOUTTHENEWTESTAMENTANDHOWMUCHWECAN

TRUSTTHATWHATWEHAVETODAYARETHESAMEWORDSASWEREWRITTENBYTHE

ORIGINALAUTHORSWEFAILTOTAKEINTOACCOUNTHOWWRITTENLANGUAGECAN

CHANGEFORINSTANCEWHENTHENEWTESTAMENTWASFIRSTWRITTENINGREEK

ITWASONLYWRITTENINALLCAPITALLETTERSWITHNOSPACESORPUNCTUATIONDO

YOUBEGINTOUNDERSTANDHOWSOMEWORDSOREVENPHRASESMIGHT

ACCIDENTALLYBEDROPPEDOUTBYSOMEONECOPYINGPURELYBYACCIDENTIHOPE

SOBECAUSEITHASBEENHARDENOUGHFORMETOWRITETHISPOSTIN

SIMILARFASHION

Can I trust the NT? part 4

Over the years, so many things change that in fact if there were NO variants (differences in spelling, spelling errors, differences in capitalization, definite articles and prepositions dropping out or being added in) in the ancient hand-copied manuscripts of the New Testament one would start to wonder at their authenticity.  Even when it comes to His self revelation our God turns what appears to be weakness into strength.

View part 5

Our Own Theological Survey

Tired of hearing about all these supposed Christians in America and what they believe I thought it was about time to find out what those in our own community believed.  This is the first of several anonymous surveys to see how things stand here.  Take your time, answer as truthfully as you can, usually your first gut reaction is the truth.  And feel free to comment on any question, or the survey in general.  Also, feel free to share this survey!

An Interesting Article Pertaining to Memorization

From our friends at the Rebelution Blog comes this post about the OK Plateau.  Admittedly it is a long read, but the core of the Rebelution is to rebel against low expectations by doing hard things.

Pushing Past The O.K. Plateau

The O.K. Plateau

I was reading an article on “mental athletes” by The New York Times. It was a fascinating subject, however, there was one section in particular that caught my attention and seemed worth passing along.

In the Secrets of a Mind-Gamer (an article with a very off-putting and tawdry introduction which only makes sense if you read the entire thing) Joshua Foer explores his journey from journalistic curiosity to competing for the United States Memory Championship. As he relates the steps he took, he tells of when he seemingly hit the plateau of his memorizing potential, and how he got past it:

Cooke kept me on a strict training regimen. Each morning, after drinking coffee but before reading the newspaper or showering or getting dressed, I sat at my desk for 10 to 15 minutes to work through a poem or memorize the names in an old yearbook. Rather than take a magazine or book along with me on the subway, I would whip out a page of random numbers or a deck of playing cards and try to commit it to memory. Strolls around the neighborhood became an excuse to memorize license plates. I began to pay a creepy amount of attention to name tags. I memorized my shopping lists. Whenever someone gave me a phone number, I installed it in a special memory palace.

Over the next several months, while I built a veritable metropolis of memory palaces and stocked them with strange and colorful images, Ericsson kept tabs on my development. When I got stuck, I would call him for advice, and he would inevitably send me scurrying for some journal article that he promised would help me understand my shortcomings. At one point, not long after I started training, my memory stopped improving. No matter how much I practiced, I couldn’t memorize playing cards any faster than 1 every 10 seconds. I was stuck in a rut, and I couldn’t figure out why. “My card times have hit a plateau,” I lamented.

“At one point, not long after I started training, my memory stopped improving. No matter how much I practiced, I couldn’t memorize playing cards any faster than 1 every 10 seconds. I was
stuck in a rut, and I couldn’t figure out why.

“I would recommend you check out the literature on speed typing,” he replied.

When people first learn to use a keyboard, they improve very quickly from sloppy single-finger pecking to careful two-handed typing, until eventually the fingers move effortlessly and the whole process becomes unconscious. At this point, most people’s typing skills stop progressing. They reach a plateau. If you think about it, it’s strange. We’ve always been told that practice makes perfect, and yet many people sit behind a keyboard for hours a day. So why don’t they just keeping getting better and better?

In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner tried to answer this question by describing the three stages of acquiring a new skill. During the first phase, known as the cognitive phase, we intellectualize the task and discover new strategies to accomplish it more proficiently. During the second, the associative phase, we concentrate less, making fewer major errors, and become more efficient. Finally we reach what Fitts and Posner called the autonomous phase, when we’re as good as we need to be at the task and we basically run on autopilot. Most of the time that’s a good thing. The less we have to focus on the repetitive tasks of everyday life, the more we can concentrate on the stuff that really matters. You can actually see this phase shift take place in f.M.R.I.’s of subjects as they learn new tasks: the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active, and other parts of the brain take over. You could call it the O.K. plateau.

Psychologists used to think that O.K. plateaus marked the upper bounds of innate ability. In his 1869 book “Hereditary Genius,” Sir Francis Galton argued that a person could improve at mental and physical activities until he hit a wall, which “he cannot by any education or exertion overpass.” In other words, the best we can do is simply the best we can do. But Ericsson and his colleagues have found over and over again that with the right kind of effort, that’s rarely the case. They believe that Galton’s wall often has much less to do with our innate limits than with what we consider an acceptable level of performance. They’ve found that top achievers typically follow the same general pattern. They develop strategies for keeping out of the autonomous stage by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented and getting immediate feedback on their performance.

“Psychologists used to think that O.K. plateaus marked the upper bounds of innate ability. In other words, the best we can do is simply the best we can do. But Ericsson and his colleagues have found over and over again that with the right kind of effort, that’s rarely the case.”

Amateur musicians, for example, tend to spend their practice time playing music, whereas pros tend to work through tedious exercises or focus on difficult parts of pieces. Similarly, the best ice skaters spend more of their practice time trying jumps that they land less often, while lesser skaters work more on jumps they’ve already mastered. In other words, regular practice simply isn’t enough. For all of our griping over our failing memories — the misplaced keys, the forgotten name, the factoid stuck on the tip of the tongue — our biggest failing may be that we forget how rarely we forget. To improve, we have to be constantly pushing ourselves beyond where we think our limits lie and then pay attention to how and why we fail. That’s what I needed to do if I was going to improve my memory.

“To improve, we have to be constantly pushing ourselves beyond where we think our limits lie and then pay attention to
how and why we fail. That’s what I needed to do
if I was going to improve my memory.”

With typing, it’s relatively easy to get past the O.K. plateau. Psychologists have discovered that the most efficient method is to force yourself to type 10 to 20 percent faster than your comfort pace and to allow yourself to make mistakes. Only by watching yourself mistype at that faster speed can you figure out the obstacles that are slowing you down and overcome them. Ericsson suggested that I try the same thing with cards. He told me to find a metronome and to try to memorize a card every time it clicked. Once I figured out my limits, he instructed me to set the metronome 10 to 20 percent faster and keep trying at the quicker pace until I stopped making mistakes. Whenever I came across a card that was particularly troublesome, I was supposed to make a note of it and see if I could figure out why it was giving me cognitive hiccups. The technique worked, and within a couple days I was off the O.K. plateau, and my card times began falling again at a steady clip. Before long, I was committing entire decks to memory in just a few minutes.

I think this is fascinating and challenging. To be honest, it is something I have wondered about in passing but never took the time to actually investigate.

In some ways, I have to confess I regret learning about it because I’ve lost an excuse I like to use. Sometimes when I do things and reach my plateau I simply stop, because I’m a perfectionist, and if I don’t compare with those who are really good then I don’t want to do it at all. There are other things I’m better at, I reason, and so I excuse myself by rationalizing that it’s a waste of time to dwell on something I can’t get any better at. Now I’ve lost my excuse.

But on the other hand, this thought thrills me. The best you think you can do, is not the best you can do. With the correct approach, with feedback, and diligence in repeatedly practicing the hard parts and the areas in which we are the most likely to fail, we can go far beyond what initially appears the limits of our potential.

Can I Trust the NT? part 3

All facts need to be interpreted, and so Dr. White helps us to look at the facts through the eyes of faith.  When we consider the facts regarding how the New Testament was preserved for us over it’s first 1,500 years, before the printing press, always copied by hand, it is astonishing.  God truly worked to preserve the Word He gave to us.

View part 4