The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Learning and practicing

There are many ways we can learn something. It makes it easy to call almost everything we do learning without distinguishing what learning actually requires.

A common assumption is, that people learn from mistakes. The detail that isn’t always discussed is, what it is they learn.

Taking the mistake by itself, a possible learning can be, that when one makes a mistake other people get angry, that it is uncomfortable, or that one has failed. A shortcut solution thus can become, to simply avoid the action that led to a mistake.

This may sound a bit too easy. And yet, it is what the most natural reaction to something disagreeable is.

To achieve a different type of learning a cognitive investment is necessary. It’s an investment that requires one to seek to learn from whatever happened or whatever one is doing. It can only be achieved by going back into the situation and taking the time to see it as it was. One of the most popular models to do so is Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. It was developed in 1988 by Graham Gibbs as a way to give a structure to the learning experience.

This learning is there to allow knowledge to emerge. It may serve as an indication for future actions.

Practicing can also be called learning. However, its aim is an entirely different one. It serves to transform knowledge into an ability to act based on the given knowledge. Practicing thus actually makes cognitive knowledge disappear as it transforms it into habits. One could call it automated knowledge, one where patterns become so habitual that they don’t need to be remembered.

The more practice people have the less aware they are about these patterns. Once something is fully integrated it becomes difficult to describe how one does it. Describing the used pattern would require to first decode it. It’s as if it would have to be learned again.

Practice allows developing one’s art.

Practice also leads to the individual’s experience one has come to find normal. The repeated patterns become invisible or without alternative. They can, for example, be the normal way people adjust to deal with the demands of their environment.


Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *