Memorizing Rates of the Day

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by newusnamom, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. newusnamom

    newusnamom New Member

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    PS struggling with shouting out rates correctly. Detailers belittling him isn't making it any better. Nerves start even before he starts. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    I got yelled at because I had condensation on the outside of my window during a room inspection and was asked to explain it. At the top of my voice. With underlying scientific principles. While being constantly interrupted with comments about other things in the room. Yelling and criticism is part of the process, requiring the yellee to suck it up, clear the brain, shut out the static, deal with the anticipatory tension, focus on the required action and execute without hesitation.

    Your son is learning a skill that may save his life and that of others one day, that of calm, flawless performance under pressure and relying on memorized sequences to survive. You cannot help him, except to express confidence he will succeed. Avionics fire in his plane, cockpit filling with smoke, one shot at landing on the carrier or punching out, voices in his earpiece, alarms going off - knowing what to do because of memorized drills and confidence gained. Fire at sea in an engineering compartment, everyone working as a team, laser focus, noise/heat/smoke/fear - knowing what to do because of memorized drills and confidence gained. And these aren't even combat situations.

    He will dig deep and figure this out. It will be painful, messy and demoralizing. He will gain this skill, the ability to master tension, breathe deep and perform under pressure.

    Those detailers, and generations of mids before him, had the same struggles. They are the ones now walking around the Yard with confidence.

    As has often been said around SAF, you taught him to fly, now let him soar. That will also include some sloppy flying as he learns to trust himself.
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Capt MJ nailed it. Nothing you can do but encourage. Every Plebe is getting yelled at right now. They will find something to yell at them about. I could go on for hours of stories of stuff they yelled at me about. I attribute my calmness under fire and ability execute under absolutely chaos as an officer to two things... Being a Plebe and the basketball court. He is doing fine, he will get better at rates as he gets better at all of it.
     
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  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    One of my best memories of my USNA tour of duty as a battalion officer, that relates to the situation above, was a basketball tournament banquet while traveling as Officer Rep with the women's basketball team. The seniors from the three other teams stood up and introduced themselves. They slouched, did not project their voices, spoke with varying degrees of confidence and clarity, used "like" and "ummm," as they said their names and majors in a variety of fields (many majors that don't exist at an SA), standing up and sitting down as quickly as possible. Most were vague about their post-college plans. Then the Navy firsties stood up straight in their service dress blues, spoke clearly and audibly, made eye contact as they addressed the room, projected confidence and strength, and introduced themselves with "I'm Midshipman First Class W.T. Door, majoring in Aeronautical Engineering and minoring in Chinese. I have service selected Navy aviation and hope to fly F/A-18 jets." They commanded the room. They gleamed with grit. I was grinning so hard it hurt, and coaches and hosting school officials came up to me later (since I was in SDB too) and expressed admiration for their composure and self-confidence. In the military, we call it "command presence." These firsties, once sweaty and anxious plebes all, went through the exact same hellishness as your son.
     
  5. newusnamom

    newusnamom New Member

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    Thank you, agree with all, just cant stop wanting to be the mom with the bandaid!
     
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  6. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    It's okay! Those of us who have BT, DT understand that as much as it's a process for your DD, it's also a process for you and all the other plebe parents too.
     
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  7. suddensam

    suddensam USNA BGO

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    Perfect. They term what your son is experiencing "positive pressure with a purpose". Capt MJ just succinctly described the purpose.
     
  8. HopefulDad3210

    HopefulDad3210 Member

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    Love this. I was never military, but work in extremely stressful situations. This is more or less what I told DS before he left. I told him no one is being mean, but they need to simulate a difficult situation for you so they can see how you perform in it. I also had a neighbor who is an USNA grad and sub guy tell me the same thing about the memorization saving lives some day. I think the context and conceptualization was helpful to DS going in. Now at least he understands why it's happening and what is expected of him.
     
  9. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    CAPT Jim Lovell, USN (Ret), USNA '52. Apollo 13 commander. I am quite sure he was yelled at during Plebe Summer, and a few things more stressful back in those days. Wonder if it helped...

    And more recently, retired US Airways captain "Sully" Sullenberger, USAFA '73. Kept his cool and landed his jet in the river in NYC. I believe he may have encountered some stress here and there during his doolie time.

    Infinite stories, both well-known and not.
     
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  10. SYDad

    SYDad New Member

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    DS has expressed a similar issue with the rates. Having problems reciting them verbatim. Detailer(s) actually took reef points away from him until he learns the material This of course is tough to do since the material he needs is in the book. All this info from a recent letter in the mail. DS wrote down all the rates on the back of the letter as practice and to show my wife what the rates actually are.
     
  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    They took his book away to make his classmates work with him and help him. Honestly the new Plebes are venting and they will figure it out. There isn't a Plebe there who has them all memorized, but they eventually know most rates. They are learning a new vocabulary, way of thinking, way of reacting, everything. All of us Old Grads laugh about it today, but nearly all of us know that the pressure and process is what has made us who we are today. They too will figure it out and in no time will be able spout off more random information than a Jeopardy game in a language that sounds like English but is full of acronyms and strange things. One day that ability to memorize mass quantities of information under pressure will help them pass a SWO board or earn their wings. More importantly it will help them when it matters most, when they are going through an ejection checklist in their heads or the emergency procedures when a nuke reactor has an issue. It all has a purpose. Right now it just feels like it's something to be yelled at and do push ups, but it's part of a grander training plan.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  12. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Of all the lessons I learned plebe summer and plebe year, this is one of my top three "most grateful-for." (Others are prioritization and what everyone calls time management but what I call time utilization.) The brain is incredibly plastic at all stages of life, even in old age. All it needs is uncomfortable repetition - just like increasing situps, pullups, or aerobic capacity. But there are other benefits too. After a while, you learn how to organize those rates. Like right now, all the plebes are learning them like "Sir. You. Now. Have. Ten. <wait, is it 10 or 9?> Minutes. To. Noon. Meal. Formation. <what's next? uuuhhhh...> After just a few weeks, they'll think about it like this: time, location, UOD, menu, MOOW, PK, events. UOD is uniform of the day, OOW is mid officer of the watch, and PK is plebe knowledge topic of the day or week. Each part has a script - that will become one chunk of information, not a bag of words. Note that since it has been 27 years since my last chow call, the order and/or contents may have changed, but OTOH - I remember it. You memorize the script and just slot the updated information in. Then, you concentrate as you deliver, and that can be mastered with practice, too.

    Plebe rates helped me to organize incoming information while it was incoming, rather than wasting time afterward that could delay or paralyze a decision. I still do this in ways that I do not see most of my otherwise very-smart adult friends and colleagues able to do. It also allows me to deliberately focus on individual stimuli in the midst of what people would call "noise." For example, I teach introductory biology to large (120 students) groups. I ask my students to work as teams and discuss problems a lot. I can focus on individual teams doing this and tune out the other 20 teams, one at a time, so that I can listen for sticking points or confusion or really good insights. My colleagues don't believe I can do this until I demonstrate it. I also memorize all 120 student names before the first day of class, call my students by name throughout the semester, and remember their names when I see them on campus two years later. This is an exceptional feat to others, but to me it is an extension of a skill that I fought hard to learn over 11 months, and am now proud to maintain. It does not seem unusual to me, and it is not unusual - for USNA grads. Every one of those ~4200 mids can do this: the super-smart 1600 SAT kids and the "barely got in but from Wyoming with a killer split-fingered-fastball" kids. Every one. That means your DS and all DDs and DSs will, too!
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  13. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Historically, in great contrast to West Point, the Naval Academy has always adopted mental pressure over physical pressure. Sure, there's PEP and a few obstacle courses - but, mostly, it's the ability to stay composed and recall information, remain articulate, while being interrupted and put under pressure. That is a huge component of the many pressures placed on the Plebes during their summer training. It shouldn't come as much surprise. Some can handle it better than others.

    It's never personal between the detailers and the Plebe. It's the detailers' job to put on the pressure. It's the Plebe's job to show that they can handle it. Some can handle it better than others. When you indicate that you have difficulty handling it - the heat gets hotter until you learn to handle it. It's the Plebe's problem - not yours. Don't worry about. Your Plebe will survive. No arterial bleeding will result.
     
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  14. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    I suggest you let him wear his big boy pants.
     
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  15. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    Some people are good at Rote memory some awful, that same person who stinks at Rote memory might be wired to make logical decisions quickly in an emergency. Might be helpful if he/she realizes that Rote Memory is a "Gift" yeah it can be improved as you develop those brain channels, but some people just have it. Does not a good officer make, just a helpful tool.

    My Mid Son and his Daddy were not so gifted, and it has been a struggle, but they are both "Hard wired" for leadership and snap decisions.
     
  16. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I think "rates" have various degrees of significance...it isn't JUST about rote memorization. It is the added stress (as already mentioned) of having to THINK under pressure...not necessarily to spit out "How's the cow?" but what do you do when you don't know the rate? What about if you only know half of it (do you attempt to try or not)? Do you "show up" your classmate or decide not to? In one's career EVERYONE will encounter similar types of situations when there is an immense amount of stress -- not just in emergency situations -- what about when you are standing up and briefing a boss and they stump you with a question which they expect you to have? What about when the CO is screaming at you (yes, this DOES happen) and is demanding answers? Countless scenarios. Then there is how do you accomplish the impossible? "MIDN X, you owe me the articles of the Code of Conduct written 2,020 times in one hour...go!"

    Later on in plebe summer (if it hasn't started already), MIDN will get newspapers and expected to read AT LEAST 3 articles a day and be able to speak on each one for 1.5-2 minutes. This was my favorite rate (in fact, it was the ONLY rate I ever asked of plebes...never asked menus, "the days," etc.) because I could get rote memorization AND ask critical thinking questions following the 1.5-2 minute summary...which then led into some meaningful discussions. Why is this article important? How does it affect you/world/DoD/etc.? Where an article mentioned a problem --- what possible solutions (or alternates) exist to solve it? What are the tradeoffs of each? I liked articles because it simply was not just "repeating" something back...but required plebes to think about the article, analyze, and, in some cases, pick and support a position. It also made meals a lot more enjoyable/interactive and the plebes actually started to look at the articles beyond the rate requirement. If nothing else...keeping up with current events is pretty important.

    Bottom line...rates have some value in the long run.
     
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