Thursday, September 5, 2013

learning

I am always fascinated by how people learn. Spending a chunk of my summertime on a small beach in northern Michigan, I had no idea that I would get a curious and interesting look at a learning model. 

Early in August, a friend down the way bought a kiteboard.  If you have never seen them, they are large (think 15-20 ft) half-moon shaped kites.  Add long lines and a single board, and kiteboarders can surf for miles with a good breeze.  Up here in Tawas, we have some of the best kiteboarding in the world, due to location and wind. 

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So we see the kite and it's sitting on the beach.  I watched this man spend an entire week standing in one place, raising the kite up and down.  It's all he did.  Kite up.  Kite down.  I sort of wondered what he was doing and it wasn't until step two that I figured it out.

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For the next two weeks, he walked up and down the beach, flying the kite.  Never got in the water.  Never lowered the kite.  Just up and down the beach, flying the kite. 

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At this point, I realized two things:  one, kiteboarding is a lot more difficult than it looks; and two, this guy was really smart.  He knows how he learns. 

Then smart guy stood in the water and flew the kite.  Stood in the water for a few days and then, he added the board.  At first, small jaunts of 100 ft north or south.  Until he had the rhythm of the water, and the kite, and the wind.

If he lost control of the kite, it could land on someone on the beach.  And that landing could really hurt, as well as damage the kite. 

By the end August, it was delightful to watch him surf up and down the beach with his kite and board.  He taught himself well, and I got to learn a thing or two along the way, too. 

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