Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Arts Management 2020 - Session 5

This was on Zoom, a first for me, but with some help from Shobhs who generously let me use her Zoom account and from Anjali who helped me screen share, we got a decent class going.

We are right now in the 'How' phase of the 'Why', 'How' and 'What' elements of Simon Sinek's golden circle. 'Why' is about your purpose, your artistic vision. We had covered one extreme of the 'How' - by looking at 'The Making of an Expert' by K Anders Ericsson - and his 10000 hours theory, deliberate practice and other factors. That was to become an expert, a lifelong journey.

Today we look at the other end of the spectrum - at Josh Kaufman's theory of  'The First 20 Hours - How to learn anything.'

Josh Kaufman says the following. That one can become reasonably good at anything, like literally go from zero to reasonably good, in just 20 hours. Now 20 hours is 45 minutes a day, give or take some, for a month which is easily done. (So one could use both deliberate practice and this theory together to get better in certain areas one is not good at.)

Kaufman lists a 4 step method to rapid skill acquisition. The steps are

1) Deconstruct the skill
(break it down into smaller pieces, the key elements that are important for the skill)

2) Learn enough to self-correct
(research, gurus, mentors, coaches, peer discussions - must help in giving enough understanding of the science, the process on the right way and how to identify and correct when things do not go right)

3) Remove barriers to practice
(removing access to phone and other distractions and delving deep into 1-2 hours of undisturbed work enables deep work and not superficial work)

4) Put in those 20 hours

Josh says that the major barrier to learning anything new is emotional and not intellectual. It is not that we are not intelligent enough, but that we fear the feeling of looking stupid when we try a new thing. However, after the initial phase of feeling stupid, we learn things very fast and become pretty good in a very short time. As long as a student is in the learning mindset and is fine with asking questions and accepting that she does not know everything, this part can be addressed to a large extent.

Secondly, Josh says that one must study the practice and identify the small set of things that are really important instead of going into the hundreds of complexities that make up any skill. Identify the key few practices and set of things to learn (from a coach, learn enough to self-correct) and practice those and you become really good in a short time. For example, he gives us a live demonstration of how he learned to play the ukelele, by identifying four key chords as against the hundreds that are there, and pretty much playing any song reasonably competently.

For the student then, it is important to first deconstruct the skill of dance. The students identified - in order of importance - Posture, Footwork, Hand gestures (mudras), Abhinaya, Tala, Rhythm, Stamina - which we grouped as A,B, C.

Students can rate themselves on a scale of 10 (10 being perfection). On A and B, they had to aim to get to 8, using the methods suggested by Josh Kaufman, and identify clear steps to reach 8 and above. Aand B, because they are the most important.

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