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Passing the CPA Exam

(Was college a waste of money, or was it valuable Momentum Learning?)

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of February 12, 2007






Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2


This Week's Questions


[posed by David A.]
  • Why do most college students retain so little?
  • Can students pass exams without connecting to their teachers?
  • When students get involved and participate in lessons, do they automatically Learn by Emergence?

Do you know?



After reading Steve's comments from a previous email, I was reminded of a thought I had during one of our groups. The thought was that I hadn't really learned much in my accounting classes in college. For the most part, the professors and I failed to connect and I found the material extremely dry. Needless to say, when I finally took the CPA exam, an exam considered more difficult than almost any other professional exam, I failed.

After failing, I then enrolled in a review course. The course was given by a premiere company, one which specialized in preparing candidates to take and pass the CPA exam. Once again, I couldn't connect, and once again, I failed.

Eventually, I found a study partner or should I say, she found me. She and I decided to study three times per week, using the material I my prep course had given me. During this time, she and I connected well, especially when we were discussing real life scenarios.

After this, I passed the exam.

My questions are:

[Question 1] With regard to my having finally learned enough to past the exam, what was it that finally allowed me to learn the subject material? Was it my connection to my study partner?
[Answer] David, you and I both know that the entire key to real learning is that the student and teacher connect. No connection. No real learning.

The problem is, I'm not clear as to whether you are asking me if you passed the exam because you connected or if you actually learned because you connected. Here, I will have to assume that you mean passing the exam, as this seems to be your focus here.

Passed the exam because you connected. Yes. Absolutely. In fact, I'd guess that without this or some similar connection, that you never would have passed. This despite your having an above average IQ. Why say this? Because of how you described your classes in college, which tells me you were not learning in college. At least, in your accounting classes.

What did you say? You described the material as being "extremely dry." This alone tells me what the problem was. What was it? The balance between factual material and personal material. The position of these teachings on the fussy / fuzzy continuum.

What is the fussy / fuzzy continuum? It is the single most important factor in all of education. It is the tone, balance, and composition of all human communication with regard to literal versus figurative meaning.

What makes this so important then is that students and teachers must be matched or they will not be able to understand each other. This despite their IQs. The thing I've already mentioned.

In everyday terms, folks who tend to learn "dry material" best tend to lean toward the fussy end of the scale. And people who tend to learn "wet material" best tend to lean toward the fuzzy end of the scale.

The problem here, then, is that you tend to lean toward the wet end of the scale, while your chosen profession tends toward the dry end of the scale. People versus numbers. Families and kids versus accountants and the IRS.

How you ever chose this profession amazes me. This aside, the fact that you did is more the problem than the way your professors taught. Fussy versus fuzzy. Dry versus wet. And my proof? That once you made connecting more important than information, your whole ability to learn expanded. So much so, that you passed what is, in essence, one of the most dry exams in the professional world; the CPA exam.

So does this exonerate your college professors? David, yes it does. How? By making what happened more that they and you were miss matched than that they sucked at being teachers.

A waste of money? No. And we'll explore this further in a moment. For now, simply try to take in what I've said; that retaining what you learn requires you connect with your teacher. And that in order to connect, the two of you must fall on the same end of the fussy / fuzzy continuum. Which, if you're interested in learning more about, is the main focus in this week's Education and Learning column.

[Question 2] How did some students learn or memorize enough information to pass the CPA exam without being connected to the instructor?
[Answer]
David, here again, I wouldn't assume there was something wrong with the professor. Nor that these other students did not connect to the professor. In truth, they may have simply been more in line by nature with dry material than you.

At the same time, passing exams mainly relies on that you can adequately parrot facts. Moreover, parroting facts require little to no connecting. Thus, some folks can easily manage to parrot enough to pass exams, while at the same time, being totally incompetent when it comes to practicing this profession out in the real world. Why? Because real world professions require both dry and wet skills. Moreover, it does not matter which is missing. Miss either and you'll be, to some degree, incompetent.

Of course, this competence through a good wet / dry balance applies to teachers as well. For example, how many teachers would you say actually opened your mind, taught you things, and changed your life? Five? Two? One? Any?

My point is, teachers must also pass licensing exams. Yet many teachers couldn't teach a worm to crawl. Moreover, all these teachers were once college students themselves. All of which had to pass exams in order to graduate.

So how can so many students graduate from college incompetently prepared? Well it's not that they're dumb, I'll tell you that. Incompetence in professions or not, most people are a whole lot smarter than their educations show.

The answer then lies almost entirely in how we test for competence. In truth, we don't test for competence. We test for the ability to parrot information. Which is why, so many of the professionals you go will to sound more like parrots than people. Not all of them. But a lot of them. Why? Because parrots can pass licensing exams, but only people can help people.

Hopefully our work in and around Emergence will help to change this one day soon.

We can only hope.

[Question 3] Did the facts I was exposed to during my classes in college help me at all when I finally connected? Is this the nature of Learning by Momentum? Moreover, when a student finally does get involved in a lesson, does he or she automatically Learn by Emergence?
[Answer]
Second question first. When a student gets involved in a lesson and is participating, is he or she automatically Learning by Emergence? No. But the chances for Learning by Emergence go up considerably.

Of course, the word, "participating" can mean a lot of things. However, if we assume you mean connecting, then I'd say, the answer is, no, but the chances for it go up by a lot.

As for your first question, "Did the facts I was exposed to during my classes in college help me at all when I finally connected?" Here again, I would assume you have weighted your question in favor of parroting to pass exams. Thus as in the previous question, I'd again have to answer, yes. Know however that the main thing implied here is not how you passed your exam, but rather why you retained so little?

Why did you retain so little? Because you and your professors failed to connect. Why? Because you spoke different languages; fussy versus fuzzy; wet versus dry.

[Question 4] I have had my best learning experiences while doing rather than while studying. Is this true for me because I can picture myself as I am learning something? Is this "learning by doing" a type of student involvement?
[Answer]
Is this "learning by doing" a type of student involvement? To be honest, I'm not sure. You see, "doing," by nature, is an Outer Layer activity. In fact, "doing" is the main focus of the Outer Layers.

This is in direct opposition to "being," which is an Inner Layer activity. In fact, "being" is the main focus of the Inner Layers.

I guess what I'm saying is, my answer would depend on whether you are connected while you are doing. Which means connection is more the determining factor here than the literal meanings of the words, "doing" and "being."

What I'm saying is, "doing" while connected is "being." In fact, if, by doing, you mean that you learn better from hands on learning, this may simply indicate that you connect better to things than to people. Nothing unusual here, David. Many famous people would fall into this category. Folks like Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

In other words, the "connections" you may make better may be the Layer 10 connections (a person to the world), as opposed to the Layer 9 connections (people to people). You initial story even hints at this.

As for your other question about picturing yourself while learning as the key to your best learning experiences, While I know, in theory, this is true in general, I cannot say with certainty if this is true for you. Again, if your connections are mainly Layer 10 connections, then, no, this is not what was happening. But if they're mainly Layer 9 connections, then yes, this is what's been happening to you.

[Question 5] In one of our groups, we had Austin, a professional graphic design artist, teach us a lesson. In it, Austin asked us each to draw a letter of the alphabet. Small as this task was though, it seems that while we did this, we were all connected. How, exactly, did he create this connection? And did this connection mean we were in the state of Learning by Emergence? Did our connection put us into this state?
[Answer]
How did he create that connection? Wow, David, you've asked one heck of a difficult question. In effect, you've asked me what makes someone a good teacher. And at the risk of sounding circular, I could say, connection makes a good teacher. Unfortunately, this far from fully defines a good teacher.

To see this, you simply have to imagine a baby, a two year old, showing you something they've learned. Most folks would easily connect to the baby. But few would actually learn anything at all. Other than the obvious; that babies are beautiful beings.

So to get back to your questions, you basically asked two. One, how did Austin get us to connect, and two, did this connection put us in the learning state I call, Learning by Emergence.

Did it put us in the Learning by Emergence state? No. The learning state I call, Learning by Emergence, is the state in which we learn. Not the pre or post state of learning, mind you, but the literal moments in which we learn. So no, being connected did not put us in that state.

As for your first question, how did he put us in that state? To answer simply, I'd say that he combined the cute genuinely loveable excitement of a two year old baby with the technical expertise of a master artist. After all, Austin is one of the fastest rising graphic design artists in New York City today. In part, this is because of these very qualities.

No coincidence he too has a lot in common with Da Vinci and Michelangelo.


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