Do you remember when you were younger, and information seeped into your brain like a sponge? Seemingly endless amounts of facts, trivia, formulas, data, and information permeated your little brain, and yet somehow, it all stayed in there. As adults, we do not seem to possess the same mental absorption that our younger counterparts took for granted. As we age, the way we learn and retain information (like many other things) undergoes a dramatic shift.
Observe two different adults in a private guitar lesson:
Meet Bob. He tried to play piano as a kid and gave up. Now, he’s back because he wants to prove to himself that he can learn to play music. As the lesson progresses, Bob tries to achieve the goals set in front of him, pausing for frustration, judgment, and various other forms of neuroses. He doesn’t understand why he’s having trouble, and assumes that no one else has these problems, berating himself silently for struggling.
Meet Sue. Sue had a similar experience as Bob, playing piano as a young girl but eventually quitting. Sue’s progress during guitar lessons is extremely slow due to an overwhelming lack of confidence. She moves very slowly and methodically, being very careful not to make any mistakes. By limiting her mistakes and not taking chances, Sue believes she can prevent failing altogether.
Now meet Eric. Eric is an 8-year old boy who loves cars, dinosaurs, and guitar. During his guitar lessons, he has no fear of failure, no self-judgment, and his frustrations ignite problem-solving skills, not shame. He will play until he hits a mistake, and then try 13 different ways to proceed until he doesn’t make that mistake. In short, he will work his way through a wall rather than assuming the wall is too strong for him (like Bob) or trying to go around or avoid the wall (like Sue). This is one of the crucial differences in learning experiences with children and adults. Children have to solve physical challenges. Adults have to solve mental challenges. Of the two options, the physical challenges are much, much easier to solve.
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