Today I read this quote:
’Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.’-Mark Twain
It is humorous because it is true! It seems the more I know the more I realize I don’t know. It can indeed, be miserable in the moment.
While working with a horse today, I was having difficulty doing some things under saddle which I felt « should » (a terrible word in and of itself) be easy. We had done the movements many times before.
I know what to do in those instances, first check for pain or physical discomfort. I did that. Then check how I’m asking, what he’s telling me. All the various things to assess the problem. Checked all the boxes.
Still having the issue, I thought well, how about the opposite of what I had asked for. Lets go to square one. It kind of worked, but by then I’d gotten myself in a mental knot. I was able to end our time on a good note, but the feeling of discomfort with my solutions stayed with me.
Fast forward to the end of a long day and one of my most challenged human students. She’s a wonderful little kiddo, who has ADHD. She does really well with the physical process of playing and singing, but focusing for the music theory part is a huge challenge for her.
I can’t just avoid teaching music theory and be a good teacher, so I started out with it. We did well but it was a little stressful, and I can’t help thinking there could have been an easier way to go about things.
Once I got home, and had some quiet time to reflect I noticed that my jaw was tight, and my shoulders were raised.
All I have learned in Ki Aikido and in Feldenkrais Awareness lessons tell me that the mind is reflected in the body. As horses and humans are responsive to one’s body language more so than any verbal language, it caused me pause to wonder.
Could the « miserable uncertainty » to which the quote refers reflect our trying too hard-getting over focused and overly analytical? Could trying to analyze all the options when something is not working actually decrease intuitive awareness of undiscovered options?
I don’t have the answer yet, but I think I have a hint that becoming more comfortable with uncertainty might open up new possibilities.
The next time I find myself getting uptight in teaching and learning situations, I hope I remember this lesson.
What works for us at one time and situation may not work in another. Or as I’ve heard from my own teacher so often, « adjust, adjust, adjust. »