The Romance Stage of Learning and Developing
By Michael Hebron
Why do human beings want to take part in some activities and not others? Why do we improve at something’s and not others?
Why do we have the skill to improve several activities, but tend to only make progress with a few and often only reach our potential with one?
By dividing learning into stages we can find some insights that address these questions. Benjamin Bloom called the stages of learning early, middle and late.
These stages parallel what the genius of Alfred North Whitehead referred to as the "romance stage", the "precision stage " and the "general stage " in 1929.
Studies into human development point to how what happens during the early or romance stages of learning and development of a skill will influence how long individuals will continue to stay involved with an activity. Also how often then will take part in it. (read those sentences again)
The early or romance stage must be recognize for what It is. It is the stage when the "possibilities " of creating a students continued engagement exists. This is the "get them hooked " stage not the tell them something needs fixing stage.
This is the stage when passion and a love of something needs to be nurtured and not suppressed by telling people golf is a hard game to learn and play .Not so, there are blind golfers, one armed and one leg golfers who not only enjoy golf , but some even having scores in the 70s .
The romantic stage is the awakening of interest stage and it must free of pointing out what is wrong, which causes intimidation and frustration. (An approach that should be used at every stage of learning) . If we want people to fall in love with an activity, they can't be told this or that needs fixing. Respected research shows that FIXING isn't learning, it's a negative approach to improving.
Studies show without passion there will be little interest in playing any game. Without interest the basic needs of human behavior and development are not being met. This reality is often side stepped when it comes to instruction, especially in sports instruction.
Studies show when the early or romance stage of development is filled with required structured training and lots of get it right instruction, the freedom and enjoyment that can foster interest and passion for an activity is being suppressed.
After people "fall in like " with an activity only then should the Whiteheads " precision stage " be entered into with instruction information moving beyond basics. This is then followed by the "general stage" of applying basics in a variety of contexts.
" I think I am going to like this game " may not be what students are saying after they have been told this or that needs fixing, or you must do it this way.
Athletic skill development is a by product of self motivated play. This is the kind of " I want to-play this game " thinking that is found in pick up games in parks, school yards and in golf environments free of judgment criticisms and any attempts to fix.
Unwanted outcomes should be seen as valuable feedback for future reference, not as results that need fixing. Unworkable outcomes of to far, to short, to fast , to slow , to high , or to low are actually used as insights for workable outcomes in learning developing environments . They are not seen as mistakes. They as valuable and required feedback for learning to do something different. The nature of learning finds Inconsistency as useable and valuable for learning.
Introducing or repeating unworkable outcomes during training is one of the most powerful way to support skill development and long term learning. Counterintuitive yes, but true . The unwanted outcome can be the teacher, while the instructor is the coach.
Over managed, required, structured instruction during the early or romance stage of development (or at any time ) can cause individuals young and old to become frustrated and intimidated, thereby missing an opportunity to develop interest and passion for an activity and love of a game.
" That teacher sure sounds smart, I don't really know what he was trying to tell me, but he he sounded like they knew a lot . "
How many golfers have had that impression of instruction? Information is often intellectually interesting, but educationally vacant.
It is important to recognize that without a since of enjoyment , free of frustration during the early stages of development of any skill , there will be a lack of long-term interest. Without self confidence during the romantic stage, "i can do this" , "I want to do this ") there will be little opportunity to enjoy a game during a journey of development .
In learning developing environments no one is broken in need of fixing, they are on a journey of development. A 30 handicapper isn't broken, or doing anything wrong that needs fixing. They are learning to playfully develop and grow new skills with SMART ! SAFE ! PLAYFUL! approaches to learning . On the other hand, it has been shown that "Teaching -fixing to get it right " approaches to learning do not support long term learning .
Smart - students minds are really talented.
Safe - students always first environment
Playful- powerful learning about yourself finds useful learning
We are never training the skill, we are always training the emotional self in all of us.
Suggestion: when students are allowed to, or learn to play for the pure sake of playing a game, they will develop a passion for that game, regardless of the score . Then they become willing to move on to the precision and general stages of developing, free of personal intimidation and frustrations.
Studies show: When it comes to sports, the reasons people of all ages stop participating, or play less frequently include:
• Drills are boring and studies show drills are of little value for new learning
• Emotional stress from excessive performance demands
• Negative coaching and feeling of failure
• Not enough free play without trying to get it right
In closing, it seems imperative for individuals to become frequent participants in any activity including golf, that they must experience the stress free introduction stage that Whitehead referred to as the romance stage.