Teachable Moments

The man flourished his arms to ensure he wouldn’t be limited by the material of the lab jacket before taking a deep breath and with great care and precision poured the base material from the pipette to the bottle. I studied him carefully, absorbing which chemicals he took and how he added them. As he watched the bottle in the container he reached out for one of the many liquids on the table. Focused so intently on his concoction he was absently reaching for the liquid he desired. He grabbed a glass rod and carefully poured some more of the ingredient into the mixture. He kept pouring, iceberg slowly, until the meniscus reached the marker. He put the lid on and then carefully shook it. As he shook he looked at the final ingredient and horror took over his face. He looked at his hand and ran to the contamination sink. Too late, the bottle had swollen to twice it’s size and would no longer hold the foamy sub-strait that had appeared in the bottle once the ingredients had been stirred together. It exploded and foam went everywhere.

The man turned to face us interns, “Now, can anyone tell me what I did wrong?”

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You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?

I think it depends on the skill. If it’s something I’m interested in I like to passively watch someone do it while I try it myself. Like for guitar. There are online tutorials showing you what to do and how to do it. Although someone else is showing you, you can pause the talking to do your own thing, or just have it playing while you strum away. I guess if I’m learning a new skill I do better at muddling through and asking for pointers along the way over having to read directions (perhaps one of my weakest suits, reading directions) or hear someone describe it once and are done.

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