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Appropriate Notice

I first encountered this concept in a music education workshop many years ago. The idea then was that in teaching young children, presenting something in too large a package is overwhelming to the student and uncontrolled by the teacher. It’s easy to waste a lot of time, unless you take the vital step of pointing out a small piece for students focus on. Students then notice what’s appropriate for the lesson.

Of course, this applies to all of life. Observation skills are different for each person. When you ask three people what they saw in a given situation, you may get three (or more) different answers. People notice what’s important to them or what fits their life paradigm at that moment.

This idea came up recently in my course work. Each week our teacher presents a movement procedure that we need to learn in our own bodies before teaching to fellow students and then executing on our teacher. The move for this week was a fetal curve (lean forward sitting in a chair, head down, back curved) involving a physio ball, but the focus was taking the student through it three times and pointing out to the student three cumulative things to notice as they lift the head and begin to sit up: first just the lifting of the eyes, second actively the moving the ball, third paying attention to how the hands and forearms bear weight on the ball. The teacher's point was directed at me, since I’m practice teaching: you need to introduce small bits for the student to think about so they are not overwhelmed. Now I may have a bit of an advantage in this teaching stuff because I have a few years of experience, :) so I noticed right away that there was a graduated attention to details. It was time for an internal double-take when I heard my classmate read notes about moving the ball three different ways.

During the weekend, in my morning movement time I decided to revisit squats (not the kind with one leg in front and one behind, but where both knees bend in front like you’re going to get something off the floor). These are hard for me because of the habits I developed learning to walk after my spinal cord injury. I just can’t get the balance right to make the movement work at all unless I hang onto something in front of me. After a couple tries, I was finally able to notice that the hang-up is in the fronts of my hips. Just then the muscles or ligaments there released and allowed completely new balance. It was quite a revelation, but the fact is that I was finally able to notice what was going on in that part of the body. Now I have a new way to stand, walk, get into and out of a chair, drive my car—AND a whole new appreciation for the concept of appropriate notice!

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