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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Footnote to skills

A skill is something that improves with deliberate practice.  In other words, if you want to see if something is a skill, ask yourself whether practice is likely to improve it. If not, then maybe you have misclassified something as a skill that is really some other kind of activity.  Non-skill-like things do not tend to improve with repetition or deliberate effort.

This means that for some skills, your practice might be inadequate. For example, I have known people whose Spanish doesn't ever improve very much. You can be stuck in a plateau and just keep cooking without ever cooking anything better. In some cases there is a limit: you are pretty good at it and you might never get much better. In some cases, the quality of the practice is just not very good. Some people write a bunch and never become good writers. This is mysterious to me, but it might be that they never make a conscious effort to improve, never break down the skill analytically.

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