Re: Article: Apples and Oranges; State Specific Learning by Lynn Seiser
Good post Dave, although I don't think shu-ha-ri is necessarily a linear process. From a learning perspective, I believe it is a continuous spiral reflecting the process of understanding as one expands and deepens one's knowledge and experience, in their journey toward progress.
I think the dichotomy of learning/unlearning is inevitable if one adheres to rigidity of patterned learning, and is one of the main arguments against kata training in karate.
At one level, there is a need to learn the craft in a particular way. Allow me to use the analogy of calligraphy, because I believe it has strong parallels with martial development.
In learning calligraphy, one learns to write the characters line by line, stroke by stroke (the basic form). One learns how to hold the brush (sword?) gently but firmly, and the way in which the brush strokes are to be made. As one progresses, one starts to gain a sense of character size, spacing (ma), and lines. One starts to sense the amount of pressure (force) and ink (quality of force) required to complete the character. In time, one begins to sense the flow and depth of the writing.
When you compare the work of a beginner and a master, you can see that the beginner's strokes are hard, heavy, rigid and linear - almost one dimensional. Whereas the master's is smooth and flowing, with hard strokes blending into softer lines and roundedness. There is a sense of the right amount of ink and pressure and depth that it almost comes alive and jumps off the fragile rice paper at you.
Yet, fundamentally there is no difference between what the master and pupil does. The basics of holding the brush, and the strokes and lines are there What is different, however, is the quality, the refinement and level of sophistication in the master's strokes which is not evident in the pupil's.
In order to make the proficiency leap, the student must learn to gauge the level of sensitivity required to hold the brush, to maintain the fine control and precision of the strokes, and feel the flow and roundedness within the strokes. They must learn to gauge the amount of ink required to complete a character or series of characters before a recharge is required.
In effect, the student must learn (and unlearn?) to apply all of these things sub-consciously. After all, mastery is merely countinual refinement of the fundamentals at increasingly broader and deeper levels of sophistication.
So when you speak of state learning specifics, it is not merely about learning to do things in a specific way, but to understand the goal(s) to which one is striving for. Otherwise, one never seeks the opportunity to go beyond the initial learning state, because the way I see it, there are stages in learning development, in which one must continually strive to go beyond the current state into the next stage(s) of learning and development.