Monday, August 19, 2013

Order of Operations

I recently taught my son to ride his bike without training wheels.  He was very resistant and afraid of falling down.  I discovered that the order of learning skills was very important.  Before he could get confidence balancing and moving, he needed to be confident that he could brake and put his feet down at any time. This is a coordinated movement between hands and feet as well as body balance (which foot? which side? when?)  so not as simple as it seems.

Over twenty minutes on two days, we practiced braking dozens of times: I would hold his bike up while he put his feet on the pedals, help him move forward pushing the pedals, and then either tell him to brake, or let go and he would wobble and brake on his own.  Eventually one time he forgot to brake and just kept going: breakthrough!  So the order of learning was

  1. Learn how to stop
  2. Learn how to go straight on his own
  3. Learn how to turn
  4. Learn how to start on his own
Despite having a sore lower back from holding up his bike so much, I thought this worked well.  But what a strange order to learn in!  Then I remembered how knitting is most often taught.  The teacher will cast on a bunch of stitches and do a few rows, so that the knitter can (1) go straight, then learn to (2) turn at the end of the row, then (3) bind off at the end, and finally someday (4) cast on a new beginning.

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