Mediation Analogies


Acquiring New Skill-sets

 

A young man came to a music school to learn the Mridunga, a drum-style musical instrument. Like the other applicants, he too stood in line to be personally interviewed by the institute’s Dean. One by one, the art enthusiasts approached the Dean and were asked two questions: “What instrument do you wish to learn?” and “What have you learnt so far?”  All the aspirants ahead of this particular young man were uninitiated in any art form. Hence, the Dean successively asked each to come twice a week and stipulated the fees at Rs. 1000 per month.

 

When it was the young man’s turn, the Dean put forth the first question to which he said he desired to learn the Mridunga. In answer to the next question he said he had proficiency in playing the Tabla, another drum-style musical instrument. The Dean said: “Very well, come three times a week. I shall ask the concerned teacher to give more personal attention to you but you too will need to work hard to focus on what is taught and take out more time to additionally practice on your own. The fees will be Rs. 3000 per month.”

 

The young man was taken aback for a moment. Then, composing himself, queried why was he being given such elaborate instructions and why was he being charged extra fees. In fact, he expected he might be given a concession and fewer classes as he already knew how to play a similar instrument. The Dean replied "Your knowledge of playing this other instrument is precisely the reason behind assessing the extra effort and time that would be required in teaching you to play the new instrument. Some unlearning will first have to take place from your earlier skill-sets before new skills can be acquired by you. This unlearning will take much greater effort than the learning of the new skills. Hence the extra sessions and the additional fees.”