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Argentine tango, swimming and reflection - spot the link!

on Sun, 07/22/2012 - 18:21

Recently I was writing a tender proposal involving learning processes. So it was inevitable that my mind was buzzing with images and thinking on Kolb's Learning Cycle.  This cycle describes how we learn - (1) by doing something (experience)  (2) observing what we do and thinking about it (reflection)  (3) then making connections with other knowledge and experience (abstraction) and (4) playing and applying our thinking to doing things differently (experimenting).  What I didn't expect was to be landed with such a neat example of Kolb's cycle in action arising from my activities at this time! 

First the tango link- I was at a tango lesson and our teacher, the lovely Sophie Martinez teaching at Tango Malvern, emphasized the need to push into the floor with one's standing leg to give the energy for the movement and leave the free leg 'free'. All well and good. Next day in  the swimming pool, I was dissatisfied with my movement through the water - it was laboured and slow rather than dynamic and flowing. So there, as I floated and played in the water (the other swimmers probably wondering what on earth I was doing!), the tango lesson of the night before came to mind.  So I mused.... on land, you push against the floor to find the energy for movement, so what do you do in water? You push against it but with what?  Answer came: hands and feet act as paddles. So I played some more and realised that I was using my hands very inefficiently.  By adjusting their positioning,suddenly I was moving more easily and swifter.  Result! 

I realized I had moved through all stages of Kolb cycle - (1) doing (swimming), (2) observing my poor performance and reflecting (3) making connections with my learning of tango and drawing conclusions, then planning (4) experimenting with the altered approach to swimming.  And of course, by reflecting on the process of my learning, I was engaging in reflexive practice - looking inward and asking how my new-found learning came about.  What was key to taking me on that path and what triggered connections and insights?  But that's another story.............