The above image was formed from a combination of ideas from three separate books that I have read. The books are,
Growth Mindset (Dweck), Peak (Ericsson), and Grit (Duckworth).
The idea is that each one leads to the next one. Time and time again I have found that trying to learn something new can often be frustrating. You do all the right things like practice and study and there does not seem to be immediate gains. I have found however if you can persevere through these feelings, you will ultimately notice an improvement. I've heard this referred to as a frustration barrier, and it can really suck.
- You need a growth mindset to even begin attempting to learn something new.
- To begin learning you need to seek challenges just outside of your comfort zone (but not so far out of your comfort zone it induces panic/despair.)
- It takes Grit (perseverance) to remain outside of your comfort zone; when you're in that learning zone because it's mentally painful:
- It feels like you're not getting anywhere (or progress is too slow.)
- You make continuous mistakes (which you're actually learning from but they feel discouraging.
- You feel confused about what you've even achieved so far and fuzzy about where to go next.
This process can occur for a few reasons. Firstly our brains are not computers and don't automatically and logically store everything we learn. Not only do we have to go over new ideas multiple times to form the corresponding pathways, but it has also been shown that we also need things like sleep to help properly solidify our memory.
I once had an experience many years ago when I started learning Adobe Illustrator. I struggled for a couple of months to learn the software and made a small amount of progress. However, I ultimately gave up in frustration and moved on. A month or so after this I jumped back on to have another go, and to my surprise the information I had tried to learn previously just clicked into place. I had just needed time for what I had previously learned to settle and fall into place.
Another big reason for the frustration I believe is that as you learn, your goalposts move further. This is especially true in art. As you progress you see how much more you could progress. As you climb the next hill, it leads you to view the next bigger hill. As they say, the more you know, the more you realise how much you don't know.
I have this poster available for download on my Gumroad site. Great to print out and post in the classroom to remind students to keep pushing the boundaries.