Friday, January 15, 2010

True Mastery NOT possible without FUN! Take it from a 5 yr old drummer prodigy

I don't often follow viral video trends, but sometimes I do it just to find inspiration. Yesterday I found the video below and it got me thinking. I thought the obvious thoughts at first, ya know, "wow, a prodigy", and "there must be something genetic", and "he's just naturally talented", etc, etc, etc.

But then, knowing that my friend and colleague Aaron Silvers (@mrch0mp3rs) also appreciates heavy rock'n'roll (for lack of a better term. I hate to label), I sent him a tweet. I was right...

from @mrch0mp3rs: oh... my... lord...

The questions he asks, however, are different than mine. (BTW - THAT is why pinging your network is important.)

from @mrch0mp3rs: ...Look at the sense of flow. How much practice did it take to get to that mastery.

The key word for me there is mastery. Doesn't something like this Aaron's words..."throw a whole wrench into it"? It being our idea of what mastery is. First of all, I'd guess that it took a LOT less than 5 years, because... well... he had to spend at least a couple years of his young life learning how to lift his head, sit up, eat without puking, ya know that infant stuff.

Perhaps this is a much better example of Shoshin or beginners mind. The Zen teacher Suzuki is quoted often, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few". The beauty of watching kids is they just DO what they want. That normally means they do what they like or enjoy. Seeing pure joy in the face of a child is a gift that should be experienced every day by adults(experts). That must be why school teachers LOVE what they do.

Aaron's final tweet-reply was my favorite...

from @mrch0mp3rs: Look at his command of the whole set... you don't get to that kind of proficiency without it being intrinsically fun.

I know we avoid the word fun, but let's get real. Most children will stop an activity WELL before they achieve this level of mastery. Most kids at some point will bang things together and show an interest in making noise and yet have no desire to sit at a drum set. But you can tell by watching this kid that he truly enjoyed every moment of his time on the drums. Heck, most adults just don't even try new things. An adult's "expert" mind rationalizes the time commitment of gaining a new desired skill, and they decide no, without even giving it a chance.

So, why shouldn't we consider FUN a critical part of the learning process?

If the learning experience is not purely joyful and fun, then the pain associated with the learning process forces the child to quit and the adult to not even start. But let's also remember that does NOT mean the learning must come easily. No, in fact, the joy comes from overcoming a difficult complex challenge. The joy of learning comes from the DOING...over, and over, and over, until you get it right. During the over, and over, and over part you are certainly frustrated at times and even angry, but it IS still joyful because you are hopeful that knowing soon you will have overcome the challenge and success is right around the corner. And THAT feeling ROCKS!

How do you help your learners ROCK?

mLearnCon 2010 Conference & Expo - San Diego, June 15-17


Ben said...

I agree that we should take enjoyment into account when creating learning, but the post title goes entirely too far.

It reminds me a bit of the "you have to really love something to truly master it" kind of comments.

I live in an area of the country that used to be full of coal mines. Many of my ancestors were minders, in fact. Some of them showed a mastery of coal-mining. Did they love it? No. Did they have fun? No.

Those are nice to haves, not need to haves.

Brent Schlenker said...

Hi Ben! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Most of my posts are purposefully thought provoking. I don't claim to be right, just curious. Your comment made me think and I appreciate that. I completely understand your points and that's exactly what I was thinking until I was provoked to think differently by Aaron.
I think a lot this is semantics. Mostly around the term Mastery. What is mastery? And how do we define it?

For example, what exactly does it mean to master coal-mining?
Is the geologist who never pounded an actual rock in his life a master? Or is coal-mining only mastered by the actually miners doing the work? maybe they both master their specific part of the coal-mining process.

BUT, I would argue that even if I master the skill of digging holes, I have not truly mastered it if I do not intrinsically find some sort of joy/fun in doing it.

And I would also argue that your ancestors also created fun out of their jobs in order to ease the pain of the grueling nature of the job. Its games, fun, humor, that we create in order to tolerate the frustrations of the things in life that we do not like and do not enjoy.

I'm still not sure but those are my thoughts as of today. A 5yr old playing the drums like that just REALLY made me think.

Thanks again, for continuing to provoke my thinking. The topic of mastery is very interesting to me right now.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you would enjoy a book by Carol Dweck (2000) called self theories in which she connects mastery to the joy of learning from mistakes (deliciously quoting one child: "mistakes are our friend")

(anonymous posting was most practical for the moment)

mack said...

This is fascinating.
I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heatmap of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.
online learning