Saturday, January 14, 2006


Why is it that we don't recognize our learning habits better? There are recognized stages of learning, but those identify levels of competency. They do not reflect the psycho-emotional state of the learner during a prolonged learning experience. I am talking about something akin to the stages of grief, where is discussed the student's perspective on how "great" or "stupid" the endeavor is.

Satya, after four long months is just starting to like playing the violin. For these many months, I have endured screaming, crying, excuses, disinterest, laziness and despair just to get "Mississippi Hot Dog" whispered between the cat gut and the horse hair.

After four months of "stupid, "I now hear lovely notes. We have emerged - at least for the moment - into "great. There is no external reason behind this change. I belive it is simply the result of four months of consistent encouragement.

At the doctor, when they diagnose you with a terminal illness, don't they send you off with some social worker's business card, wherein are her name, phone number, and a subtext "Specializing in the X stages of grief"? All I am asking is to apply the same standard of care to Suzuki violin.

Without guidance, save for Satya's precious but very young teacher, I was reduced to taking one day at a time. Survival mode violin is not a pretty thing to see, much less to hear. And, all the frowning is terrible for my complexion. Now that she has reached a certain level of enjoyment and skill, I can see how this all developed. And, it reminds me of every one of my own learning experiences.

Without going too much into how she is like and not like me, let me just say, I don't think Satya's learning pattern is unique. She thought violin was great for 2 weeks; then stupid for eight weeks; then a chore for two weeks. Now it is "fun."

Really all I needed was a little forecast in the psychobabble department. You know, twelve steps, eight stages, four phases -- and an end date.

On this, the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, perhaps we should not so much be celebrating the composer as issuing a long overdue remittance to his father, who had the patience to put up with young Mozart for long enough to get from "stupid" to "great."

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