The impossible tennis lesson

In this video, author Tim Gallwey teaches a woman to play a passable game of tennis in 20 minutes. His student is 55 years old, 40 pounds overweight, and badly out of shape. In 1975 Harry Reasoner heard of the guy and visited him intending to expose him as a fake. In 1987 Alan Kay presented this clip in the context of a discussion of user interfaces for computers. It's also fascinating in the context of how to teach and learn judo.

Kay points out Gallwey's approach of "removing interference from the mentality that likes to talk and make comments." This reminded me of my tendency to over-talk (a lot) when explaining judo stuff.

Kay also quotes Gallwey saying "The problem with most theories of teaching is that the parts of the body that you want to have learn don't understand English." This reminded me of something Will said at dinner last night: it's impossible to actually teach something because the person can't know what you're telling them until they've done it themselves.

I'm also reminded of my idea of "mum judo".

One Response to “The impossible tennis lesson”

  1. John Smith Says:

    Good post. I have ordered the tennis book. Consider if one were to produce a manual of how to dial a phone. Also consider the manual had to outline step-by-step, the mechanics of bending and using your joints, fingers, and elbows. The manual would be 30 pages long and very hard to follow.

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