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Progress not Perfection

The phrase practice makes perfect is heard so many times that perfect becomes the goal. What is perfect? Has anyone ever reached it. Does anyone want to reach it? If not, then why say it, would it not be more realistic to say today I want to make a little more progress. Perfect, according to the Cambridge Online Dictionary, is complete and correct in every way, of the best possible type or without fault. It is an adjective or describing word summerised as without fault.

I would be mortified to achieve that!

Imagine to have done something so much you can never learn a single thing from it ever again. For it to be so perfect that no person in the land can eke another iota of valuable information from it, for it to be the pinnacle of achievement, the zenith of all things possible, the apogee of everything associated to this work. Seriously, what a let down!

It simply cannot be perfect, for perfect is subject to societal whims, personal ability, developmental state, cognitive understanding and awareness of things that one is simply unaware of at that time.

To ask a student to play it perfectly next week is a blatant misuse of the word and setting a target that cannot be reached.

As an educator we encourage learners to progress by attaining the skill to be able to achieve the goal. If your aim is to achieve a higher standard after a weeks practice, teach a learner how to break down what is required into small steps to be achieved in a suggested time span. This progress to an achievement point will do more to encourage a learner than expecting a perfect rendition; without parameters set.

The last section is key to this discussion, a skill can be perfected, or achieved to a state of completion, within a certain context or guideline.

Should we encourage a learner to aim for perfection? Would it be better to encourage a learner to aim for a progress point to be achieved to a specified standard before the next increase in ability. This way, through a series of small steps and achievable targets, a learner can make progress at a consistent and steady pace. You cannot climb a long ladder with just one step.



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