Tap Dancing and Meta-analysis

Posted: December 18, 2012 in Dance, Learning, Physical Reboot, Writing
Tags: , , ,

One thing that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is the assertion from the How We Learn lecture series.

[Our] judgments of what we’ve learned well, what we don’t yet know, what we do and do not need to practice are not as accurate as they could be.

I think this exhibits somewhat differently in physical skill than in more purely cognitive endeavors.  In part that may be because the former can so be so painfully obvious .  Just think Karaoke bar.

Oops.  Sorry. Didn’t mean to take you there.

Excuse me for  a moment while I clear my head of that image.

Okay, I’m back.

The thing that struck me in tap class the other day was that whether I’m good at it or not, I spend some of my limitted brainpower on how well am I doing this, how rapidly am I picking this up, (and although I hat to admit it)  how am I doing compared to the people next to me.  This is a really bad habit when attempting to acquire a physical skill that requires one to use all available neurons to make part of your body do things they’ve never done before in rapid sequences.

So I think the key here is to turn down the meta-analysis of a learning process while actually learning, and just turn it back on periodically to check and make sure that I’m not letting myself in for a “Karaoke moment.”  This is probably the same general principle that I’ve read about writing – turn off your internal editor or at least tune her way down (yes my internal editor is female, don’t ask) for the first draft.  In fact, I think this kind of in the moment meta-analysis is a good example of what not to do to achieve flow.

And of course as I attempt to apply this while in tap class, I run into the meta-meta problem.  I start thinking about whether I am thinking too much about how I’m doing, and then I know I’m thinking too much about thinking about whether I’m thinking about how well I’m doing.  It is a very good thing that I managed to make it through the session without actually falling on my ass due to my brain going into a tight look and locking up my body.

But here is as a small proof of concept. In the last few minutes of the last class of the session, we were doing “follow the teacher” exercises where he does something and we’re supposed to repeat it.  This one was probably more complicated than anything we had done previously in class.  I was completely in the zone and I think I completed the first side flawlessly (although, of course I wasn’t thinking about how well I was doing, I was just doing it), when I heard the teacher say ‘good’ in a very emphatic but somewhat surprised tone of voice.  I looked up and he was looking straight at me, so I guess I did do it right.  Of course I completely flubbed the second side…

  1. […] suspect it’s because Tap Dancing is the one completely new physical skill that I’m working on right now, but it seems like a […]

  2. […] then there  is the Spanish thing.  And the tap thing.  And I’ve started learning a different kind of yoga.  And re-learning programming.  […]

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