Monday, May 16, 2016
Deliberate Practice or Natural Talent?
I've been told on many occasions that some of us just have natural talent that others don't. I just don't buy that argument.
I'm reading Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Ericsson is the originator of the10,000 hours idea. Unfortunately he wasn't too happy with the way his work was distilled down to a sound bite. You may remember I have some issues around the sound bites of knitting myself. Here, here and here.
He feels that the concept of deliberate practice wasn't given enough attention. When most of us practice something, we often just do repetitions of the things we already do reasonably well. Deliberate practice is different. It's about working on the things you don't already do well. It's challenging and can be mentally exhausting. If you have ever spent a weekend at a knitting retreat you have probably realized how much effort goes into developing new skills and improving existing ones. At the end of every event I've been at, attendees speak about the mental overload they feel.
Taking the classes at a retreat is part of deliberate practice. Teachers help you set goals for learning by presenting you with a series of steps which can be broken down into discrete skills for you to practice. Deliberate practice is a big topic and I won't try to reduce it into a paragraph here. If you are interested in improving in any area of your life, you'd find the book an interesting read.
I think that part of the reason I've never lost interest in knitting is that I continue to have areas where I'd like to improve my skills and I see various techniques I'd like to try. Deliberate practice is just part of my knitting routine. On the other hand I always have a simple carry around project for relaxing with.