To Think or Not to Think

It’s hard for me to say this, but it’s true. New students (and even old ones) have a tendency to think too much. I used to hate to hear this, and I still do. “Don’t think, just do,” is violently against my nature, but it’s good advice for students learning new physical skills. We need to build up a kind of reservoir of physical experience and memory before we can think intelligently about our movement.

In a sense, when we first learn a new skill, we need to let our bodies absorb experience rather than our minds. Back in the 1980’s, a Harvard professor named Howard Gardner presented the theory of Multiple Intelligences, which is summarized here. He taught that different types of people learn best in different ways, but also that we have different styles of learning depending on what we are learning.

The point is, when we are learning a shoulder roll, for instance, we don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about shoulder rolls. It’s much more beneficial to spend class time practicing and gaining experience, even if we’re doing something wrong. Be mindful during class, and build a kind of experiential scaffolding that you can fill in later, when you think and practice on your own.





Agree? Disagree? Want more information? Let me know.

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