|The other day I was reading a passage from Moshe Feldenkrais book The Elusive Obvious. He was discussing how he met Heinrich Jacoby who was teaching in a similar way as Moshe had been. Moshe realized that "through his own self generated exploratory learning process, he created an elegant and economical system of focused attention and unique movements that led thousands of individuals to overcome the results of accidents, illness and disabilities. He would not have succeeded if the brain wasnít plastic." Yet when he met Heinrich, he realized that he wasnít applying his principles to areas of learning outside of movement. Heinrich asked him to draw the lamp on the piano in the room. Moshe had drawn from memory mostly (the thought of a lamp) not paying close attention to the subject he was drawing. His drawing didnít look anything like the lamp in front of him. Heinrich had him search to find the same ellipse he had drawn in the lamp in front of him. He began again to look closely at the lamp then only draw what he observed. The next drawing he attempted looked like a painter had done it. He didn't draw lines, but began to look at the light and shadows and let them emerge from his drawing more accurately. How was this possible to change his abilities so quickly? The act of becoming aware of what he was doing and what he was looking at allowed him to do it differently.
Vaeda brought home a drawing the other day. Iím such a proud mom, and love that my daughter enjoys drawing and painting. Her child like wonder allows her to create the most interesting artistic drawings. Iíve curated the best of her drawings and started a gallery wall in the stairwell to display her 4-5 year old marvelous creations. Unlike Moshe, I went to art school in Montreal and then followed that up with a graphic design career that spanned nearly 20 years, which even included teaching upcoming graphic designers. I learned to observe what I saw then represent that observation to the best of my abilities.
When I looked at Vaedaís drawing of a tulip, I didnít see her usual characteristic flare, that childlike un-inhibition creates. Instead it was a very contrived looking tulip. I asked her ďDid the teacher show you how to draw this tulip?Ē ďYes.Ē She said. To which I responded ďWell that teacher doesnít know how to draw!Ē And there you have it, in amongst the drawings was the source photo from the teacher; the most ugly square + triangle house with trees and clouds and ugly ffffing tulips lining the front of the house. I thought to myself, she has no business teaching my daughter art. None whatsoever. I will likely encourage Vaeda live a year in Montreal to study art to un-do this idiotic tendency to create ugliness based on someone elseís notions. Yes that might sound severe, but I donít consider her teaching her anything aside from conforming to the standards of ugliness that everyone else eventually does unless they learn a new way, once their curiosity and awareness is taken from them.
I donít think I would be annoyed about it if I hadnít just read that passage about true learning based on awareness. Itís the same thing with movement and physical rehabilitation; importance is too often placed on getting them to DO something for the sake of doing it even if itís done badly and with a lot of effort VS to feel and become aware of what they can do now and work around the edges of that, slowly exploring what is possible in an effortless way. It gets me on this vigilant path, because knowing there is a more powerful way to encourage learning that gets more powerful outcomes is the learning experience I want her and everyone I meet to have, and it begins with awareness.