Lessons Learnt from Learning a New Skill- Mentorship

 

rubik's cube

Photo Courtesy: Amazon.co.uk

I always wanted to know how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Watching my siblings and you-tube folks solve it so quickly made it look easy. I don’t know about you but one thing I have noticed with trying to learn a skill is that we tend to deceive ourselves that it would be an easy journey- may be it’s optimism or just sheer ignorance, but we do lie to ourselves a lot.

To learn a skill however we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. This means accepting that the task ahead of us would take time and commitment. It is never a walk in the park learning anything new.

The past few weeks have taught me that the learning experience doesn’t have to be so daunting or boring if the learner has a Mentor.

My mentor for this skill was my sister, she taught me how to solve the Rubik’s cube in 4 weeks. Just to be clear, it’s wasn’t easy. There are so many methods for solving a Rubik’s cube. She taught me using the Layer Method (you can learn about it here).

Her technique was different and unique because I didn’t have to memorise the algorithms, she turned each algorithm into a story, so all I had to do was to remember the story and off I fixed each layer of the cube (after several failed attempts).

Having a Mentor helps you learn a skill  a lot faster than you usually would because you are essentially walking in the footsteps of someone who has knowledge and experience in the skill you are about to learn. So you are made aware of potential pitfalls, so that when you do encounter them you can jump over each challenge

Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. 

Not every Mentor might be as effective as my sister but the words of Benjamin Franklin stand true. Your Mentor has to engage you in the skill and cannot just force his/her ideas on you without watching you try it out- that’s the only way you to learn!

A Mentor must be adaptable and ready to listen to your difficulties. I remember the first week I started out, my Mentor would give me a task and watch me twist and turn the cube just so she could point out my errors. This was so helpful because I was involved in this skill right from the start, hence, I learned each stage faster.

You might wonder, how can one choose a Mentor? Some people naturally have their mentors available to them-it could be their sibling (like in my case) or a parent, or a friend who wants to help them learn a skill. If we are to choose our Mentors however, it goes without saying that we want to go for people who are knowledgeable in that skill and know how to teach it.

We also need to choose Mentors that know us well. Solving the Rubik’s cube was fun and less stressful for me because my Mentor was a sibling who knew me well and knew I would learn the algorithms faster with stories. When choosing a Mentor, it is important to look  for Mentors who have similar personalities with us, or personalities that are relatable, that makes it easier to take on board their suggestions.

Learning a new skill is not always that simple especially when learning it alone via help guides or online tutorials, because the author of these resources may not always explain things in a way that would be easy for us to learn. However, with a well suited Mentor by our side we can learn our new skill in less time and find the learning experience more enjoyable.

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Time will tell

Tick tock tick tock.

Seconds turn into minutes,

Minutes into hours,

Hours into days.

Waiting- Just waiting for inspiration.

Waiting for the motivation.

Waiting for the kick.

It is hot and humid, my brain is fried.

I must meet the deadline, so I try. 

First draft, not good enough,

Second, too quirky,

Third… May be I’m not that blocked.

I’m going to write about this. Write about now. Write about how I feel.

Write about how hard it is to write when you’re time bound. 

Pour out my thoughts just hoping for some order. 

Waiting, believing my writer’s block will be over. 

But with things like this I know; only Time will tell

Through the door

                                                        Image(photo courtesy: 4photos.net)

The wind blew up leaves on the stairway, but it didn’t clear out the pile that had decorated the front porch. There was dust everywhere like the house was dug up from the Sahara desert. The cobwebs lined the front door in complicated spirals, and I was afraid to touch the door knob. I got out my white handkerchief from my purse and attempted to open the door. It was stuck. I knew this house, it seemed so familiar but I was unsure. I couldn’t remember how I got here, but something told me that it was important to be here. I tried again, this time pushing and turning the knob more vigorously. The door handle came off and fell on the leafy sandy floor in a clang. I looked down at it in disbelief. At that point I knew I should be worried about curious neighbours and hidden pets attacking me, but I wasn’t. I also knew I should have knocked before trying to open the door, but I hadn’t. Trying to ignore my thoughts, I picked up the door handle from the floor and tried to stick it back to the door. Just then, the door opened. I pushed the door wide open quickly; afraid the wind might shut it. The room was dark. I reached for the light switch just beside the door and the room was flooded in a yellow dull light.

The spiders had completed their artwork inside the house as well, from wall to wall, ceiling to floor; their dust carrying webs were everywhere, I sneezed a lot as I moved around. I knew where I was but I couldn’t quite place it, maybe it was because it looked different; abandoned. There were two huge stairways than ran across the duplex with all the rooms upstairs visible from the landing. As I walked through the dusty carpet I could hear in my head children screaming in excitement. There was the huge chandelier above me which lighted up the house. Only three of the bulbs were working and the five others had dark lines across them, suggesting they had died out a long time ago. The landing was like an art gallery, sparsely furnished. There were several paintings lined across the walls, mimics of course of original art works like Leonardo da vinci’s Mona lisa and  a couple of Kandiski’s abstract paintings. Looking at the paintings I knew where I was now. I walked more frantically through the room searching for my favourite painting, it had been relocated! I finally found it hanging on the left wall. It was a Frida Kahlo painting, the self portrait one. Like all the other paintings, this one was covered in dust and I could hardly make out Frida’s face.

 I suddenly could smell chocolate cake in my head, the kitchen was the door just opposite me and I remembered how Gran always kept a slice for me even when all the cake was gone. Everything on the Ground floor looked the same except they looked older. The walls were white washed and the carpet felt more like sand than its earlier soft feathery feel. What bothered me the most was that I couldn’t tell what year I was in, albeit I knew I was in the future. I went back to the entrance to take one of the stairways leading upstairs in search of a clue. There were six rooms upstairs, and only one belonged to Gran three were on the left side and the other three on the right side. Upstairs snaked into a u-shape, connecting to the other stairway. I enjoyed running and jumping through each connecting stairway playing hide and seek with my cousins.

Upstairs was a lot brighter, I could admire the chandelier better. It was old and beautiful, very much antique worthy. On occasion I stayed in the second room, right next to Gran’s room. I opened the door of the second room gently half expecting it to be locked. It looked exactly the way I left it. The matching pink sheets and cover were still on, and the winnie the pooh curtain still hung loosely above the window adjacent to the bed. I walked around the tiny room but there was nothing else to see. I began cleaning the glass window with my already dirty handkerchief to look outside. At that point, I heard my name.

 “Sally. Sally. Sally” the voice yelled.

I froze. Stopped cleaning and listened, just to be sure it wasn’t my imagination. The voice got distant with each call, it was definitely coming from downstairs.

I rushed out of the room and bent over the dusty railings, and yelled, “Who is it?” my frightened voice echoed.

“Sally, did you break the door?” a familiar voice rang across the house. It was John, my husband. He was holding the door handle in one hand and looked up trying to make out where I was.

“Oops”

“You said you were only checking this place out, you didn’t say you would come inside. What if someone finds out we are here? We could get in serious trouble Sally.”

“No John. It’s fine, this is my Gran’s house, I’ve finally remembered.” I said excitedly and hurried down to meet him.

 

Dog years

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It’s been two weeks since Rover ( the family dog) died and I feel especially awful that I haven’t really written much about it. I know animals don’t live as long as man but when you have a pet you just sort of expect it to live forever or at least till you are old. One thing I have always wondered though is whether animals perceive time and events the same way we do. Some say that a year for a human is 7 dog years. With that idea does that mean dogs experience comparatively more things than we do in the short time they are alive? If they do, how are they able to comprehend our space and time when they interact with us for instance?

As usual I did a little research about the perception of time for animals. A study by William Roberts popped up (you should read it). According to him, dogs (animals) are ‘stuck in time’; they don’t perceive time entirely in the same way as humans do. They are only aware of the present and do not have the sort of episodic memories that man has. Dogs are only able to tell time through their internal processes like hormonal changes and neural changes, and perhaps physical changes in the environment.

Roberts study made me realise that animals are a lot different from man than we can imagine; Dogs have no memories of the past because they cannot ‘time travel’ like we can. It occurred to me that may be the only reason why they have a different memory type is for them to enjoy each experience, hence not noticing how short their lifespan is-probably the reason why they don’t mind fetching the same bone over and over again for an hour. Hence, when they live one year it is like 7 years for them because they are not robbed off the eccentrics of each events that déjà vu won’t let humans enjoy.

Lots of arguments have been made to counteract Roberts’ evidence. But this study best answers my questions about dog years. Does it answer yours?