Teaching vs. Learning

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
—Albert Einstein

Let’s ponder the above quote in relation to our golf game. If we continue to think about and question our golf swing in the same manner as we have been conditioned to think and question about our golf swing, we will likely continue to fall into the bottomless hole of “what am I doing wrong in my golf swing; what do I do in my golf swing when I hit the ball purely; what am I doing in my golf swing when I start to hit “clunkers”; am I performing the correct golf swing mechanics like I was taught, or that I “learned” from reading golf swing instruction in the magazines?”

There’s a paradox and a purpose in citing Einstein’s quotation. The purpose is to guide you to NOT stop questioning WHY we continually direct questions to our conscious mind about our golf swing. I encourage you to NOT stop questioning this pattern until you “get it” and can change this pattern. The “bottomless pit” I refer to is the falling into the delusion that our mind controls our golf swing. Instead of a “bottomless pit”, maybe it is better described as a “merry-go-round of denial,” that is, the endless mind chatter and fruitless questioning directed to our mind rather than acknowledging that we learn and improve a physical skill through our body through trial and error and discovery.

As you know from reading previous Blogs, I’m often reiterating that our mind does not control the mechanics of our golf swing. Our mind’s job is to create an intention; an intention for how we want to hit the golf ball; an intention to feel the movement of our swing that our body knows will produce the results we want; an intention to feel the feel of pure impact that our body knows will produce the desired result. So for golf purposes, we could rephrase Einstein’s quote as “The important thing is not to stop questioning why we direct questions to our mind about the mechanical performance of our body.” Why do we continue to build doubt in our mind about our golf swing mechanics; why don’t we trust our body’s intelligence to carry out our mind’s intention; why don’t we trust our body’s intelligence and ability to learn through experience? We learned to walk, and we learned a thousand other physical abilities without questions directed to our conscious mind about the movement related to those physical skills! We trialed, we explored, and we discovered! It can be the same in developing and refining our golf swing.

I think this is most easily explained in that, beginning with our educational system, we are taught to think and analyze primarily with our logical and analytical mind rather than balancing logic, intuition and creativity. We have not fully learned how to balance logical analysis and instinctive wisdom. The golf instruction industry has just followed the conditioned mindset of teaching and instruction in an attempt to impart information and knowledge. But, as Albert Einstein is often quoted: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” 

PGA Master Professional Michael Hebron has offered his research and insight on this topic through several of his golf books including Learning With the Brain in Mind, Play Golf to Learn Golf, Modernizing Approaches to Learning and The Art and Zen of Learning Golf.

Golf, or any other motor skill for that matter,
really cannot be taught, but can be learned.
Michael Hebron
The Art and Zen of Learning Golf

Teaching has become endemic in our culture. Real learning has been ignored, minimized and marginalized. Teaching supports “experts” to “teach us” and impart knowledge. Learning engages “facilitators” or “coaches” to help us uncover innate abilities. Real, effective long-term learning is primarily about self-discovery. An effective “golf teacher/instructor” is one who facilitates the learner’s self-discovery of innate, instinctive abilities. Play on!

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