Saturday, July 6, 2013

Learning to Cycle

The little one has been at it for the last few weeks. Off and on, she wants to learn to cycle. As a learner, there was a clear motivation to learn. There have been moments of frustration, of despair, of wanting to give up and of the feeling that this is not going to work.

Aside: The 8 psychosocial stages: At this age, between 5 and 12, they want reassurance that they can 'make it in the world of people and things'. So, the frustrations can have deeper ramifications - and there, there were small successes that she was able to notch up, but it was not adding up (in her mind).

But the motivation kept her going, trying time and again - over a few weeks a few minutes and there, but not sustained effort.

As a teacher/parent, what can one do - provide the scaffolding, words of encouragement, show them the path and put in corrective techniques, among other things.

Today, it all fell in place. First getting the starting power right (one needs a push to get started - and sometimes the teacher gives that initial push). This is usually the toughest part of bicycling in the initial stages - starting off.

Once that technique was absorbed, then it was about looking straight ahead - and not down, as children often tend to do.

Two pieces done, it was then about maintaining balance (which was almost there, but alongwith a fear of what if i fall). This was accomplished by running behind and adjusting the balance a little bit.

The next part was to tackle, what-if-I-fall? So, we tried a simple experiment with the standing bicycle where she realized that she cannot fall  - her legs always seemed to stop her from falling. So, why not try that while riding, by adding the brake element. That seemed to work as well.

So, then the next time, as she learnt to 'take off', she was gliding and able to stop (not exactly at perfect 10 stop, but a wobbly, violent stop). And then we went a step further, she was allowed to 'take off' and go around. And that pushed her confidence and giggling and disbelief to an uncontrollable level - that she can do it. A video was taken as 'proof' that she can cycle. And then she became more and more confident shouts of 'I know you are you not holding' started.

So, the only part was the take off on her own which was done too.

The feeling of a learning accomplishment is such a great feeling - the post event debrief did not work well as the little one went on to downplay the entire learning as a 'neither happy nor sad', but of equanimous acceptance, so that part did not work.

All in all, one of the great joys is seeing your student learn to break free. As I often say, in my hang glider analogy - the running with the glider happens, but what when the cliff ends - will the glider stay afloat or fall - when the support or scaffolding ends, does the rider continue to glide or soar? And learning to bicycle continues to be one of the best examples of learning...

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