28 May 1957
Learning, no matter which field, is only as good as its foundation is.
One would be considered foolhardy if he tried to place furniture in a spot on the second floor of a house which had not yet been built, or to lay rugs in the space where a future floor was to be constructed next year. Yet perhaps because “learning” is an invisible abstraction, we take the liberty with it as we would be considered insane for attempting with visible material objects.
For example, to sharpen my point, anyone with a grain of sense in his head knows he cannot put a lamp on a table unless the table is resting on a firm surface and he has the lamp to put on the table. Still, one wants to play a piece of music with distinction, when he is not sure of the keyboard, musical notation, and its relationship to the piano keyboard. Another wants to write a novel, when he knows little or nothing of grammar or [what] the technique of the novel is supposed to be. A man wants to be rich yet has no particular knowledge which will bring him riches.
It is only when a firm foundation is constructed that learning can be acquired. He who wants to play the piano must learn the names of the keys on the keyboard. Also, he must learn to read musical notation. He must teach his mind to correlate the musical notation with the keyboard before he can make successful musical sounds.
Such primary, fundamental approaches must be used in learning to write a novel. First things first. The same with acquiring riches in any amount. A baby cannot walk before he learns to sit and stand up.
Somehow, when confronted with the learning process, the human mind frequently tricks us. Because the learning process is not visible, only as is apparent in the results of learning, one frequently forgets that proper learning calls for a step-by-step progressive process. Each new phase of learning is only as good as the one from which approach proceeded. Good learning means good comprehension and use of all the phases of the whole learning process in the field of one’s interest, whether art, music, needlework, house or bridge construction. No house roof ever hung in midair without walls of some kind to hold it up.
If one is going to be stubborn about something, let that something be worthwhile.
How teenagers can punch your ego.
- You think you are quite a good guy. The kids pick out your faults.
- You have certain ideas about life and people and the kids don’t agree.
Little kids fight, next minute they play – not grown-ups. They hug their preconceived ideas of ego and pride too closely.
You can think you are helping your child with advice (he welcomed it as a child). When the teenager is reached – your advice is boring. When they are little they love to hear about the things you did when you were growing up. A teenager is not interested. He is too busy living to be bothered with your old tales.
Children are only young once – enjoy each phase of their growing years.