Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Slow Art of Learning
I love learning, but I want my learning to be efficient! There simply isn't enough time to learn all I want to learn in the time available (whether the amount per day, or in terms of years!). So I've been reading about the best ways to learn, practice and improve.
By the way that's me, on the left, learning to dance "plus" in square dancing; pictures of me trying to learn to make better art, play piano, speak French, write etc etc would be too boring - no good visuals! As you can see, in dancing as well as in quilts, I love black and white!
This was taken at the Art Fair that I and two friends put together last weekend...we had a great time. It finally occurred to me that ART wasn't just paintings, photographs or quilts hanging on a wall, but was also dance (insofar as you can call what I do "dance'!), music and acting...and a bunch of other things too of course. So we added all those into the Fair and it was Excellent! And, by the way, the artists sold more of their work!! So if you want a tip for making your Art Fair successful......add square dancing!
However, back to learning....from music to soccer the advice seems to be: break it down into small pieces, take the difficult bits and practice them VERY SLOWLY while remaining totally focussed. Studies show that it's not so much the Quantity of practice (though of course that is definitely correlated) but the Quality that leads to improvement. Far too often we keep going over and over the fun bits - because they are just that! But we ignore the difficult bits and just muddle through and hope for the best. And make little progress. In this last week I've been in three different group learning situations in three different art forms and have heard people say that they practice a lot but they're on a plateau and not making progress. Whether you're making an art quilt, learning to play a sonata or executing a Spin Chain Exchange the Gears, if you don't go through the most difficult bit very slowly and thoughtfully totally involved in what you are doing, it's very likely that you will stick at the same level.
Now that is absolutely fine if that's all you want to achieve and you're having fun - but over and over I hear people saying, "oh he/she is so lucky, they are so talented." Most people (7 foot tall basketball players aside!) are NOT born with some amazing talent, they have learned and learned and learned very efficiently and slowly. Yes, even Mozart! and Picasso - read their biographies!
Ignore those producers of Stuff that constantly urge us to work quickly!! That is to their benefit (more product consumed, more product purchased), and not ours...if you want to be talented, break the task into small bits, focus and Go Slowly!
And now for a nice, SLOW cup of tea..if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth