How can we know what we don’t know? That question sounds like some kind of puzzle. One thing I do know is that what I know is a much smaller amount than what I don’t know.
One scenario is that we don’t know something and don’t know we don’t know. Another scenario is that we don’t know something and do know that we don’t know it. The second scenario is important because learning is taking place.
Case in point – This week in one of my beginning Tai Chi classes, we were repeating our ward-off left to ward-off right, then roll back (grasp the sparrow’s tail). Repetition is key to learning in Tai Chi and often, even when our minds don’t remember, our bodies do. We flowed through those moves, first in silence, the second time with my calling out weight-shifting. We did the moves again. And again.
Then I asked the students: “Are you relaxing? Are you feeling where your weight is shifting? Are there any particular moves you would like to focus on?”
“A-ha”, the red-headed woman said, “Now I remember what I didn’t think I knew. At home this week, I got stuck and didn’t know how to transition to ward-off right. Do I shift my weight left? Right? I just was standing there stuck. I didn’t think I knew. But, I did know. I just forgot.”
An important moment for the class. I mentioned that it’s a big step forward in learning to know what you don’t know. Or forgot. In this case, the student remembered in her body, not in her mind.
Our bodies are powerful. They remember and store information, They like repetition. They like reinforcement. In our next class, my hunch is that the red-headed woman and others in the class will know that transition move and know that they know it.