Dr. Kurt Fischer (Harvard Graduate School of Education) explains in his dynamic skill theory that we all develop through stages of development while learning new skills. These stages also mimic the developmental levels we go through from infant to adolescent to adult. They are: (1) Actions (or Sensorimotor), (2) Representations (or Concrete Operations), and (3) Abstractions (or Formal Operations).
As you can see, these are levels of increasing complexity, working from lower- to higher-level skills. What must happen to become skilled at something you are learning is that you have to start at the beginning. Obvious? Yes. But obviously unacceptable to the many adult learners who try to skip this seemingly childish step. You can’t skip levels and go directly to the abstract level. This is the reason why adults have such a hard time learning languages. They’re afraid to get down into the action level and just play with the language. After all, adults are too mature to play, aren’t they?
A child doesn’t first try to understand how a toy works in the abstract. The child gets down on the floor and starts playing with it. The child doesn’t worry about being unskilled or what others might think. The child plays.
When you begin to learn a new skill, start playing with it. Make sounds, move parts, put it in your mouth. 🙂
The other point to consider about skill theory is that what is measured is the performance, not the person. So you aren’t at a low skill level when you begin learning something new, your performance is. That takes the pressure of, doesn’t it?
What new skills are you learning right now and how can you benefit from this information?