Monday, 22 December 2014

How We Learn – The Four Seasons.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."  1 Corinthians 13.11.  Paul means this positively in the sense of becoming more mature. But I would suggest to you that there are some aspects of "the ways of childhood" that would serve us well if we picked them up again.

A prime example is learning. As a child, I wanted to walk. I saw visions of what was possible all around me – people walking everywhere. So I tried. I tried and failed. So I tried again. I failed again. I got frustrated, but I got up again.

You can guess where this is going. I tried until I succeeded, and then I kept improving.

The concept of try, try again is associated with many inspirational characters including Robert the Bruce. Hiding from the English in a cave, he was inspired by a spider's relentless attempts to build its web. It would not quit. Who knows what inner vision drove the spider to succeed?

As mature adults, we learn from painful experience to try less often and then quit.  W.C. Fields quipped, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it!"

But I am like a child, and like a child, I love the four seasons. The four seasons of learning for me are:

· The Winter of Unknowing - not knowing what I don't know – [unconscious incompetence]
· The Spring of Discovery - knowing there is something to aspire to – [conscious incompetence – "I want to do this and will give it a go!"]
· The Summer of the Joy of Learning – [conscious competence – "I can do this!"]
· The Autumn of Excellence – [unconscious competence – "I did that without having to think about it!"]

Unconscious competence is a magical state. For those of us who drive, we'll have experienced the unconscious competence of driving somewhere familiar without having to be consciously aware of some of the route. We can surprise ourselves with "being there already"! All of us can perform a skill without thinking. It just happens...

My key point today is that mastery of any skill doesn't just happen – it flows naturally through the four seasons of learning. A child stays with the seasons. As adults, we may try to skip a season. That won't work.

The seasons stretch out before you today. Somewhere on our beautiful Planet it is Winter, in another location it is Spring, Summer smiles on some places whilst others enjoy the mellow fruitfulness of Autumn.

You are a World within yourself. Somewhere in your World there is a new possibility waiting to emerge. Look for it. Seek, and you shall find.

Somewhere else in your World within, you've already seen a glimpse of how you'd like to change, what you'd like to learn, where you'd like to be, what you'd like to do – try, try again.

In your own Summer of Success, stop and enjoy those moments where you now know you are competent.

And in your Autumn of Excellence – pause and consider where you may share the fruits of your experience with others. Pass it on. Pay it forwards. Your Autumn may bring hope in someone else's Winter – and so the cycle of the seasons flows on.

Lex
A Moodscope member.