Lesson 39
17 March
1.5 hours

One short field takeoff that went fine and one short field landing simulation that went fine except that I flew right through the top of the simulated fifty-foot tree that Adam planted right at the end of the runway.  Seven normal takeoffs and landings, two with Adam, five without.  The ceiling was 4200 feet, overcast.  The wind was from around 120, at about 7 when we began, but it picked up to 10 by the time I finished and became increasingly turbulent, especially off both ends of the runway, so I was working fairly hard today.

I remembered the checklists today, and had no particular problems with anything, other than the bumpy air--until after I shut the engine down and left the key and the headset in the plane.  Had to trot back out for them, feeling a bit foolish.

So what does this have to do with learning--this checklist business?  It's clear that checklists, if you follow them, are very helpful, especially when you're in the kind of situation that requires you to pay attention to lots of different things all at once.  I've found that they're also comforting, even when you don't really need them.  For example, in preparing to land, the instructor insists that I go through the pre-landing checklist, which I've memorized.  He also insists that I have the printed list on my lap.  Furthermore, he insists that I go through the list before every landing, even though we both know that none of the things on it have changed since the previous landing, just a couple of minutes ago.  I can do it in my sleep (and Carol says I do!).  Today I was trying to pay attention to the effect on me of going through the checklists.  I touched each item and said it aloud, even though I was talking to myself and I found it very comforting to do so.  A couple of times I tried subvocalizing instead of talking aloud, but that made me feel anxious, as if I'd left something out, so I went back to talking to myself.  It's the routine, yes, but it also makes very clear that I really have checked each item.

A similar thing, I think, occurs in any other educational setting.  If you think something, you feel that you know it.  But when you actually say it or write it--then you know for sure.  So I think my checklist experiences corroborate my practice of having students write out their ideas--in a lit class, for example--before they come to class.  And then to say or read them aloud to others in class.  It's first thinking and second reinforcement.  Or in aviation terms, I suppose, it's learning and training.

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