How to Become a Good Dancer Part 5: The Curve of Learning
Have you ever ventured into learning something new or have you ever felt like your progress has come to a screeching halt? (Which basically is all of us) Well, I have the solution for you. The Curve of Learning has been around for decades and it explains the ups and downs in any learning process. This isn’t only for ballroom dancing; it will also apply to all of your hobbies, exercise regimen, and even your job. Nobody likes feeling frustrated like he or she “can’t get it” or that they hit the dreaded “plateau”. It is amazing how the world can progress with technology and science but there are certain life principles that will always remain the same. – Even when iPhone 52 comes out! With Arthur Murray’s explanation from his 1947 Edition “How to Become a Good Dancer” he helps us understand these ups and downs and how to persevere.
The Curve of Learning
College professors have a useful phrase to describe a student’s progress. They call it the “Curve of Learning.” When it is put down on paper, it usually looks like this:
The average student starts out in high spirits. For the first few lessons his confidence keeps mounting. He forges ahead quickly-he feels sure that he will learn all there is to know in just another lesson or two! But in his enthusiasm he may try to bite off more than he can chew. Then oops! -the curve may go into a nose dive. And the student may have a temporary case of being “in the dumps.”
Once this point is passed, however, there shouldn’t be any trouble. Progress from here on is usually steady. Even if it should happen that at some particular stage of these lessons you suddenly feel like saying, “I’ll never learn to dance – I might just as well give it up, ” don’t be discouraged. You are probably then just about to begin to see the light. You are reaching the stage of understanding and from then on your progress should be rapid.
Don’t worry if you have a few “ups and downs” in learning to dance. Far from being signs of hopelessness, they are a natural, normal, healthy part of the learning process. Remember the Curve of Learning- expect to learn more quickly some days than others- don’t try to learn everything all at once- and be sure your feet “know” each lesson before going on to the next.
This is something that I learned to explain to my students at an early stage of my teaching. The one thing I would add is that this curve is continual. You will experience these ups and downs as you learn new concepts and as you work towards achieving your goals regardless if it’s your job, weight loss or dancing goals. Because of the continuous nature of the Curve of Learning it is important to be aware of it in advance and not let it discourage us, when we allow that to happen that’s when we fall into a rut.
Isn’t it crazy that 60+ years later Arthur Murray’s wisdom has stood the test of time?
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