Monthly Archives: October 2018

Quote on Learning and Teaching (#4): The power of knowing rules

Here is another quote on learning and, certainly, to some extent, on teaching.

The following words are commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”

How does this refer to learning languages? Directly!

Picasso’s words are probably the best summary of what I continuously say to my students: learn the rules first, don’t assume that people will understand you anyway, and once you’ve mastered the rules, you will feel confident in using and understanding the language. Because if you don’t know the rules you don’t know how the meaning of an utterance changes if you deviate from the standard way of saying it.

Without knowing the rules you won’t appreciate the play on words and on meaning; you won’t be able to play with the language yourself and won’t feel the joy and excitement of expressing yourself in all the subtlety in thought and meaning. Not knowing the rules of the language only leads to restraint, confusion and awkwardness.

So freedom comes only after you have laid a solid foundation of the well learnt rules.

In other words, if you know the rules you know how to break them and you clearly understand the consequences.

And here is a confirmation of this approach to learning from another renowned artist of the 20th century, Salvador Dali, who once said referring to numerous cubist experimentalists of his time:

“Begin by learning to draw and paint like the old masters. After that, you can do as you like; everyone will respect you.”

I believe the two revolutionary artists – Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali – knew so well the freedom and power the knowledge of the rules can give! You are only free when you know what you are doing.

I personally fully abide by this approach.

How about you?

#learning #quotesonlearning #learninglanguages #quote #pablopicasso #salvadordali #elt #learningstrategies #learnerautonomy