In a recent lecture held by Mike Harkins, we were shown a clip of a skateboarder attempting to execute a trick. With each subsequent attempt and failure, the skater eventually manages to complete the move correctly and land.
With each attempt and failure, it became clear as to why this clip was used, and what this demonstrated. The skater was demonstrating a process of iterative learning. To gain knowledge, necessary for the skater to perfect the move, it was indeed shown that each attempt served to provide new information and feedback crucial in learning the many minute actions which holistically result in a successful trick.With this kind of practise, iterative learning is crucial, however, is also hard to record and postulate successfully the process of which is used to perform the skaters said trick. Because of this analysis, new light was shed on my own practise. It is true that, chiefly, my skill set as practitioner has relied on the process of iterative learning. Through trial and error, it is possible to further the knowledge of a given practise. I feel that practise based research in my field of enquiry – illustration, is a combination of iterative learning with a conscious effort to reflect during the process of creating. This may be in the forms of theoretical, contextual and historic reflection. I feel acting as a reflective practitioner in illustration, it is important to bare these qualities of reflection into my own iterative learning.
Observing examples of iterative learning in other contexts.
During my time reflecting on this subject matter, I then began to look out for and pay attention to examples of this in other contexts.
I spend time in a speciality coffee shop. Here, I took a seat in a suitable position so I could view the barristers at work. I watched how they proceeded with their craft. As I observed in more details I began to note the actions (the body, hands and feet), of the barristers.
From start to finish, there are around 7 steps crucial for each drink made, if you then take into account the smaller less noticeable steps, the process appears to become even more complicated with each action appearing to be an unconscious act. I spoke to the manager of the shop and explained my reasoning for the lengthy observations of the staff. I asked how she knew how to do what she does, and how it is possible to learn. I was told that the fluidity of actions are a result of repetition. Each barrister has granular control over each step, and is encouraged to taste the results of their interaction. The tasting of the coffee yields an opportunity for the barrister to develop a feedback loop between their actions and the resulting variables in the end product.
I believe this feedback loop is the crux of the matter of iterative learning.
The skateboarder previously mentioned had a very obvious feedback loop established in order to continue the development of his skill. Each mistake results in a fall, however with each fall, an opportunity to learn is created.
With this in mind, it is then reasonable to assume that for each practise that involves skill, there are valid feedback loops which can be established. For example, the barrister sampling the results of their work flow. Furthermore – for the iterative learning in this context, it is important for the barrister to understand the qualities of a ‘good’ coffee. This matter of taste (or knowledge) is a key part of the success of the iterative learning. A barrister with whom lacks a fundamental understanding of good coffee cannot benefit from a feedback loop.
This oversimplified analysis suggests interesting facets of y own practise.
I, therefore cannot expect great effectiveness of learning through practise if for example, a historical, theoretical and conceptual understanding of my subject matter is lacking.