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Friday, May 03, 2013

What is the point : ? 'Searching for Bobby Fischer' Master Certificate (1993)





This clip has many meanings. For me it shows why chess sub-culture can relate to other cultures that involve learning 'apprenticeships'.

The novice wants validation of progress. What is 'progress' is the knowledge ... but something physical  is needed to demonstrate that - a 'token'. Here a young Josh Waitskin, when he was a chess prodigy, like many children I suspect wants a certificate to boost his self-esteem and show 'progress'.
The mentor played by Ben Kingsley is trying to show that the token of progress is not the goal ...

This trap to fall into is easy at martial art level. In Josh's book, The Art of Learning, he has an epiphany and later decides chess is not for him and becomes a Tai Chi master. During his 'journey' there, he notices people who become 'form collectors' , people who pick up sequences of moves, for its own sake, rather than the understanding and the slow graft to understand these moves authentically. Belts can do this, too. The desire for belts to show progress can represent tokenism, where the belt becomes the object of desire not the understanding and the graft and the intrinsic merits of the activity. (This relates to process vs outcome orientated goals - in a post I made below, a couple of years ago).

Moving learners to become appreciate of process goals, rather than outcome related goals, can increase their adherence to a tasks, should set-backs occur. They become resilient.

Here in this clip, the trainer - is expelled from the house but he tries to justify his reasons to both Josh and his Mother. He has a point. The McDonaldisation idea of him reproducing the standardised certificates does link to a McDojo, type feel, of the 'token' being meaningless ultimately. The way he dishes out the certificates is like a photocopier, or a machine stamping out beef burgers. There is no craft behind the certificate that way.

Josh does not know that, however, as he is too young to be able to have any experience to judge progress. This applies to any learner, who is new to a craft. How do you know you have made progress, if you cannot judge for yourself, as you are not experienced to judge for yourself? This sea of doubt goes with any learning territory like chess martial arts, starting out on a degree etc. You have to ride it out and over time changes occur, that become visible to yourself. You do things, think new ideas for yourself without being shown. < This for me is an example of validation.

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