Learning to Learn


Condensed from an article by W. Westfiel

Perfecting your dancing skills is made hard or easy by your talent for learning.  If you are a good learner, it‘s a snap; whereas if you are a poor or slow learner, it can be a struggle.  Dancing itself is simple, but learning to learn is tricky since we all excel at making things more difficult than they really are.  Learning to learn take time, patience, and attention, but the pleasure of easy learning makes dancing that much more fun.  Learning to learn is also a far more important triumph than learning to dance.

Our will is the key to learning, unlocking the prison of our homemade identity.  “I‘m not the type that learns from books.” “I learn by imitation.” ” I need things explaned in detail, I need to understand what I am doing.” “I can‘t …”  All of these are declarations of identity.  Defining and confirming, they express a willfulness to remain as is, stagnant, paralyzed, and safe.

The learning logjam forms early in life as we assume the identities assigned to us in order to survive.  “I‘m Tom. I‘m five years old.  I‘m clumsy and irresponsible.”

The doctors and lawyers are handicapped by their situation to detail.  They formulate lists, categories, and structures in such orderly fashion that it is often very difficult for them to dance.  These people have to let go of what they perceive as their tested and trusted ways of doing things.

Will yourself to change.  Be someone else, a better learner, and a better dancer.  Leave your habits and history behind, and realize you can be other than what you think you are.  Be a chameleon, shelving your present identity and its set of rules to try on a new color.  Isn‘t that why we dress western!

The idea of change is a threat.  Fear rules the mind. Fear of failure.  Fear of being laughed at.  Allow yourself some errors.

Concentrate.  Concentration is focusing on what is happening right now.  Let go of things that aren‘t happening right this minute.  Push the fear away.

Practice is t he opposite of drudgery.  Find time to practice.  Make it enjoyable.  You‘ll see short term results.  If you practice you will always improve.  You may never be a great dancer but you will be the best dancer you are able to be.  Above all be patient.