I Love: Learning

Mar. 16, 2014

I have very few memories of preschool. I remember vividly the mushroom cut my mother inflicted upon me(…one day before picture day). I remember the little poem we had to recite before we could eat at snack time (duh…if it’s standing between me and my graham crackers, imma remember it).

And I remember making “number rolls.” You started off by writing 1,2,3 on a really long strip of large grid paper. Then in the next row down you wrote 1, 2, 3 again – until you reached the end of the roll. You then graduated to a bigger number roll where you wrote 1,2,3,4…over and over again. Then 1,2,3,4,5 and so on…

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 12.57.42 PM
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 12.57.42 PM

*Example of the most basic number roll

Naturally, I saw this as pointless. I didn’t understand why I had to write the same series of numbers 200 times before being allowed to add on an additional number. And naturally, I wanted to get through all the number rolls as quickly as possible – you know, so none of my classmates beat me to it. (The fact that this task could literally go on to infinity is something I learned the hard way)

So I decided that instead of writing 1,2,3 I would just draw one giant line down the first column and get all of the 1s out of the way at once. And of course, I found it most efficient to do all the 2s at once as well. I thought I was pretty clever. They wanted the number roll filled out, I was getting shit done – ipso facto I’m awesome.

Imagine my disbelief when my teacher unceremoniously halted work on my number roll and made me start again the long way. I know! How unbelievably rude?!  I mean yeah, my way defeated the entire purpose of “teaching me to count,” and of course (being the wildly popular four year old I was) the entire class was pirating my idea. But who cares?!

Right?

Maybe not so much…

What I’ve come to realize about myself recently is that I don’t have much patience when it comes to “learning.” Clearly I never have.

Last year, I asked my mom who taught me to ride a bike (troubled that I couldn’t remember this quintessential childhood moment that always seems like such a life changing event in movies)

My mom responded, “Adelaide nobody ‘taught’ you anything” – with the disdain, I might add, of a woman who watched in terror on the first day of “mommy and me" swim class as her toddler took off for the pool and jumped in as the instructor was busy introducing himself. (That was neither the first nor the last time I risked bodily harm cause it "didn't look that hard")

I always had very little awareness or patience with the fact that I was unequipped to do something. I just got an idea in my head, and I did it. In 5th grade I decided I was going to write a book in French. I was stymied, as you can imagine, quite early on by my (minor) inability to conjugate verbs. I wrote “I to walk” (in French) and was outraged when my teacher said that it didn’t make sense.

In a larger sense, my problem was that I didn’t want to learn how to conjugate verbs – I wanted to write a book. Just like I didn’t want to learn how to count – I wanted to complete the number roll. I always wanted to do.

What I’ve grown a greater appreciation for recently – maybe because the tasks have gotten larger – is that you can’t always just do. Sometimes doing isn’t efficient; it’s a waste of time because you are trying to cut too big of a corner. Sometimes you aren’t ready and you need to be able to look further down the road.

And sometimes that means that learning is the goal. Getting a little bit better each day is the goal.

It’s only been a week of preseason, but I already feel like I’ve learned a ton. I sat down and wrote it all out tonight because I couldn’t hold it all in my head at once anymore. I didn’t want to let anything slip through the cracks.

Every ball I handle – every cross I take – I have two or three things running through my mind. Most of them aren’t huge things. They are small things that can make a huge difference.

As you can imagine, it’s hard to make even a small correction to things that have been habits for years. (Kind of like when you’re staying in a hotel and you wake up in the middle of the night and everything is in the wrong place and for a second you don’t know where you are or what’s happening or whether you’ve been abducted. It’s unsettling. And you’re apt to injure yourself on the way to the bathroom)

But when you take a million reps and can see the difference, it makes you want to do a million more just so that you can do it perfectly. It’s addicting. And exciting. (And at times unbelievably frustrating.) But I love it.

I haven’t always appreciated it as much as I should. But learning is definitely one of my favorite things. And there is nothing better than going to bed feeling like you are better than when you woke up.

-A

P.S. When I created the number roll example above, I filled in all the ones first...cause i'm an adult now and I can do it however I want.