Parroting vs. Learning

“This boy said to me, ‘See that bird standing on the stump there? What’s the name of it?’ I said, ‘I haven’t got the slightest idea.’ He said, ‘It’s a brown-throated thrush. Your father doesn’t teach you much about science.’” -Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman elucidates the difference between learning and mindless parroting in this short and concise article.

Edward’s new book has just been published

What do evolution, thermodynamics, information theory and Bernstein’s degrees of freedom have to do with Crossfit, Suzanne Somers’ Thigh Master and Conan the Barbarian?

Click here to link directly to Edward’s new book, The Mass Psychology of Fittism:  Fitness, Evolution and the First Two Laws of Thermodynamics(For those in the UK and Europe, click here for Amazon UK link or here for Book Depository)

Learning to learn begins with a beginner’s attitude

Learning Taijiquan means to educate oneself. It is like slowly advancing from primary school to university. As time passes, more and more knowledge is gained. Without the foundations of primary school and secondary school, one will not be able to follow the seminars at university. Studying Taijiquan requires starting from the very bottom, working one’s way systematically and step by step towards the more advanced levels. Someone who does not accept this, thinking that he may take a short cut, will not be successful 

-Master Chen Xiao Wang

Click here for a humorous personal account of what it means to learn with a master (in this case, Master Chen Xiao Wang).

What are constraints? (And why are they essential for learning?)

“So many witnesses observed the utter freedom of his flights of thought, yet when Feynman talked about his own methods he emphasized not freedom but constraints.”

              -James Gleick (in reference to Richard Feynman’s use of constraints in physics)

Watch this video to see a highly imaginative use of constraints applied to the game of basketball (Apparently the Belgians are not only innovators in the world of soccer!)

Humanism, European Football & Feldenkrais

“Perhaps what really differentiates Bruyninckx from other coaches is that he is not only interested in creating better football players, but also wants to create better human beings…”  (from the article)

Click here for a fascinating look into the highly imaginative and humanistic approach of Belgian football coach, Michel Bruyninckx. Bruyninckx’s innovative use of constraints along with measures for cognitively overloading players provide an excellent model for learning and integrating a myriad of complex patterns while removing the unnecessary self-judgment. I call it the Feldenkrais-Erickson-Inner Game (Moshe Feldenkrais, Milton Erickson, W. Timothy Gallwey) approach.

What if we’re being conditioned in such a way that we can no longer read anything in depth? What if the way we read influences the way we think?

“In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” (from the article)

Click here to read Nicholas Carr’s insightful article in the Atlantic on how technology has changed and continues to change the way we live and think.

 

A few words on Feldenkrais

“We have forgotten that the first maxim covered life as well as sport judo and few of us seem to have ever learned the meaning of the second (which means simply love).” 

                                                                                                 -Robert W. Smith

The Feldenkrais Method was born out of a childlike curiosity that all of us possess–even if it lies dormant beneath layers of assimilation to our fast-paced culture. Its founder, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, exemplified the same fiercely independent way of thinking that we see in all great scientists, musicians, artists, writers, dancers and athletes—indeed, anyone who values exploration, uncertainty and playfulness. It is also the same sort of mindset that we see in infants, toddlers and young children and that we ourselves embody in our more spontaneous, less defensive and perhaps more vulnerable moments.

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I often call Feldenkrais, “the art of listening”

“Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”               

                                                                                                         -Henning Mankell

In this poignant NYT op-ed, Swedish author, Henning Mankell, may be pointing to exactly what makes us human (and why in this day and age, we are becoming less so).

Patience, perseverance and diving into the process… in a word, learning

“…some of the brightest kids prove to be the most vulnerable to becoming helpless, because they feel the need to live up to and maintain a perfectionist image that is easily and inevitably shattered. As an observer of countless talented young chess players, I can vouch for the accuracy of this point—some of the most gifted players are the worst under pressure, and have the hardest time rebounding from defeat.”

                                                                                                             -Josh Waitzkin

Click here to listen to a revealing story on NPR’s Morning Edition about patience, perseverance and diving in the process rather than needing the instant result. A simple word for this is:  learning.