Learning & Control

When I started doing exercise I must have been around 6 or 7 years old, imitating an aerobics instructor who was on Spanish TV in the 80s, Eva Nasarre, every morning religiously before going to school. I just loved her gym tights and colourful leg warmers😍. My liking for aerobics, singing and dance also prompted me to ask Santa for a doll called Jem, she was a singer and had a girl band called “The Misfits”, still today I remember their songs by heart, I just wanted to be that doll who sang and wore shiny outfits, a walkman and headphones. I started attending aerobics and modern dance classes, and apparently I was good at it. Our teacher, Merche, had a big radio cassette and she had us doing choreographies to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” album and also Charleston music. I can say that those were my beginnings in fitness. Later on, I even won a medal that I still guard as a treasure.

Left: Jem & The Misfits. Right: Eva Nasarre. Childhood idols.

You will find this introduction probably not at all related to the content of this article, but I do. I want to talk about how we learn. When I started liking fitness and singing, it came from no knowledge (technical knowledge) about what it was, however I succeeded at it. It was the same case when I started formal singing studies. By using my intuition, my heart, the music, the rhythm, the natural flow of the body, repeating and progressing on it, I adopted the skill. That is how techniques are crafted, following the natural and most optimum state of things and dissecting what is at play. And then, ironically, when we go to specialized schools to learn whatever it is we want to be good at, it works the other way round: we go there thinking we know little or nothing, with expectations hoping to grab wisdom from analyzed series of patterns that someone else has experienced – usually applicable to anyone alive and healthy – hoping to become that which we think we are not. Books and teachers are there just to confirm that knowledge and maybe guide us in a structured way. But the truth is, we have it all inside us.

Chaos vs. Order: always the dilemma.

Do you progress better when learning from chaos to order (intuition to structured thought) or from order to chaos (from books to “letting go and following your instinct”)? The key is control. Somewhere between the path between chaos and order – in both directions – lies something known as the Chaordic space (Dee Hock, 1999), and this is meant to be where growth and thriving takes place. As a child, one doesn’t look for control of our chaos, we just let the chaos flow and lead us – often in the right direction, we don’t try to ‘fix’ things in an organised manner. It is through systematized education, and adulthood, that we learn to ‘control’ what is perceived as chaotic. Ironically, as it always happens with poles of the same variable, ends meet, so the more controlled and complexly we try to classify something, the more exacerbated it becomes. So eventually, chaos and order are just minutia. What matters is the essence.

Chaordic Space

Maybe using that mid-space for our learning is a sensible option. Or maybe I am just trying to find a moderate solution, again being analytical about it. No!

What is it that you prefer: learning the rules first and then letting your acquired knowledge fly through your own innate predisposition or building up your own craft/technique from your intuition/inner knowing? or something else?

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