What Stage Are You In? Experiencing the Curve of Learning

Thursday, July 11, 2013

 

Have you ever found yourself in a slump? No matter what new skill you are trying to achieve, there always comes a point where you feel like you’re not progressing. It can become super frustrating, and at times discouraging. However, what you are experiencing is normal, and a natural stage you are going through. What ever you do, don’t stop, because I promise your next peak is coming.

Whether you are taking dance, tennis, or golf lessons, there is a cycle that we all go through while learning something new. At Arthur Murray we call it The Curve of Learning, which is the natural ups and downs you will experience during the learning process. In the beginning, it is so exciting to learn something new, and you feel a big upward curve with the new information. You are in a stage of euphoria and even though you’ve only done it a few times, you really think you’ve got it. After that initial progress, you may experience a bit of a slump. In dance, you might think you have the new patterns memorized, but when you come back to them, you don’t remember. Well this is where the real work comes in, The Application Stage. We have to repeat the new information over and over again so that it is in our body naturally and your muscle memory can begin to take over. Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of work. Unfortunately, so many people give up before getting to this point because they tell themselves, “I just can’t learn.” Boy, are they wrong!

Remember when you first learned to drive a car. (For some of us it’s been awhile, so bear with me). Especially if you learned on a stick shift like I did, you really had to concentrate on each and everything you did. You consciously had to think about when to brake, turn on your signal, and we mustn’t forget having our hands at 10 and 2. Well, I’m certain that we were all truly motivated to get through that process for the fear that our parents would have to continue to drive us around town! Through practice and determination, driving became as easy and natural as walking. This is the stage we are all trying to get to.

In addition to the Application Stage, I believe it is very hard for us to see our own progress. Each step is so small that it is too hard for us to measure. However, over a couple of months, the progress will really add up. I remember feeling this same way when I was taking my kids to gymnastics week after week. I began to think, “Are they getting any better?” I stopped watching every session and, quickly after, their progress became so apparent to me.

Shortly after The Application Stage you will be back to feeling like you’re on that upward curve, and it will become euphoric again. This time as you begin to approach The Application Stage, you will know what to expect, and the euphoria will last a little bit longer. You will be ready to batten down the hatches and get to work. Then the cycle will start over, but with your prior success in working through it, the peaks won’t feel so low and highs will feel even higher.

The bottom line is to trust the learning progress and be consistent. I am confident that you will be able to achieve anything you set your mind to. I am speaking from experience. Not only have I been through it myself, but I’ve also helped countless students through it, and I am now teaching my children (and staff) how to embrace it.

 

Thank you,

 

Christy Melgoza

Arthur Murray Dance Studio Owner,

Certified Adjudicator, and Mother of Two

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