Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Masters and apprentices

A long time ago I heard an interview with a great musician. It may have been Isaac Stern or Yehudi Menuhin, or someone else. The interviewer asked him who was his example when it comes to learning new skills for extremely difficult passages in music. His reply was:

"I learn the most from my students"

He explained that students often do not follow the techniques or the instructions tought by their teacher, either because they have forgotten or because they think it is too difficult. Those of you having had piano lessons can probably confirm that using the "right" fingers is often more difficult than doing it your own way. Using a different approach than the teacher prescribes brings forward alternatives, from which the teacher can learn.

In my work, I too learn most from the people that are trying to learn from me. When I tell them, they don't believe me, but it is true. Seeing my approaches applied by someone else, in a different way, reveals possibilities and alternatives where I have blackspots.

This is one of the most important reasons why I believe in user communities and sharing of experience. Not only novice users will learn from advanced users, but also advanced users will learn from the novice.

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