Guppies and flying fish

When I watch my kids swim, I am amazed. They are unafraid. They swim better than I do, both of them. K is practically a fish, and M is diligently learning — he can swim lengths of the pool. Lengths. I am completely impressed.

Learning how to learn, this is a thing I want both of my children to understand in their bones. Academic learning, and physical learning. Those are two different things, and I learned neither of them particularly well. I never really needed to learn academic learning because it always came so effortlessly. (Until Calculus II, which I nearly failed.) And I never understood that physical learning meant practicing a skill over and over again. I thought that once I understood how a thing was supposed to work, that ought to be the same as being able to do it. When I could not do the thing, I read more about it in an effort to perfect my understanding. Oddly enough, this never led to me being able to throw a knife with any accuracy.

I think my kids understand this better than I do. They resent it, certainly. They want instant gratification like everyone else does. But steady progress is something that they can see. They can measure their skills. They can advance through the YMCA swim program classes with pride.

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