I have made the case before that perfection is not a desirable outcome, and now I wish to do the same for automacity. Like the pursuit of perfection, the pursuit of automacity is likely to paralyze rather than energize - and in the end sabatoge learning.
In The Homework Myth, Alfie Kohn explains nicely how sit-and-get-now-spit-and-forget should never be desirable inside or outside of the classroom:
Giving students homework that involves drill and practice is often said to "reinforce" the skills they've been taught in class. This verb is tossed around casually, as if it were sufficient to clinch the case. But what exactly is meant here? Unless it's assumed that practice is reinforcing by definition, one would have to demonstrate that good results are indeed likely to follow from mere repetition. And it's not at all clear that this is true, except under very limited circumstances. For example, it wouldn't make sense to say "Keep practicing until you understand" because practicing doesn't create understanding - just as giving kids a deadline doesn't teach time management skills. What makes sense, at least under certain conditions, is to say "Keep practicing until what you're doing becomes automatic." But what kinds of proficiencies lend themselves to this sort of improvement?Think about that.
How do you practice an understanding?
It's one thing to say you want a child to practice their times table and be able to bark "36!" in response to the stimulus of "6 x 6", but it is quite another to say that you actually want the child to understand how 6 x 6 can or should equal 36.
Any math teacher who concerns themself with children understanding what is happening when they multiply two numbers will tell you that this process is anything but automatic.
To reinforce the behaviorial response may actually undermine efforts to construct meaning behind mindful learning.