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The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance Paperback – May 27, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Waitzkin's name may sound familiar—back in 1993, his father wrote about Josh's early years as a chess prodigy in Searching for Bobby Fischer. Now 31, Waitzkin revisits that story from his own perspective and reveals how the fame that followed the movie based on his father's book became one of several obstacles to his further development as a chess master. He turned to tai chi to learn how to relax and feel comfortable in his body, but then his instructor suggested a more competitive form of the discipline called "push hands." Once again, he proved a quick study, and has earned more than a dozen championships in tournament play. Using examples from both his chess and martial arts backgrounds, Waitzkin draws out a series of principles for improving performance in any field. Chapter headings like "Making Smaller Circles" have a kung fu flair, but the themes are elaborated in a practical manner that enhances their universality. Waitzkin's engaging voice and his openness about the limitations he recognized within himself make him a welcome teacher. The concept of incremental progress through diligent practice of the fundamentals isn't new, but Waitzkin certainly gives it a fresh spin. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Waitzkin, a champion in chess and martial arts, brings enthusiasm and obvious love of learning to this amazing look at what he aptly describes as the art of learning. He begins by recounting his own quirky journey. At the age of six, Waitzkin learned chess from a motley crew of street hustlers, gamblers, junkies, and artists. Since then, he has been among the highest-ranked chess players. He recounts the distractions of adolescence as well as fame after the publication of his father's book and, later, the film based on it, Searching for Bobby Fischer. He later discovered that chess principles could be applied to learning tai chi. In fact, he found a respect for artistry, meditation, and philosophical devotion within both chess and martial arts and realized the possibility for broader application to learning in general. Waitzkin integrates his personal experiences in mastering chess and tai chi with research on psychology and learning techniques to offer a vibrant and engaging look at the love of learning and the pursuit of excellence. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The former issue was this...you know how sometimes you read an author teaching on a subject and it just clicks with you and your learning style? That's not me and this book. I'm not sure I can describe it, but something about the way Josh teaches and transmits information is not the way I receive and process it. Did I learn some things from this book? Sure. But I'm not sure it was really anything I hadn't already learned, it was just the same concepts phrased differently. Josh likes to create cutesy phrases to describe old concepts. Numbers to leave numbers, making smaller circles, etc... None of it for me was new and I kept waiting for the revelations, and instead I kept getting more of an education on Push Hands. I learned more about how the Taiwanese Federation cheats at structuring competitions than I did about 'the art of learning'.
Just my experience, hope yours is different.
You may recall that Josh Waitzkin was the main character in the best selling book and popular movie, "Searching for Bobby Fischer." As a chess prodigy, he received intense publicity and attention, which wore thin on him as he progressed into his late teens and early 20s. Even though he was a top level chess player, the pace of his progression did not advance to the point where he was challenging Garry Kasparov or anyone else for the world championship. Being under the microscope became tiring, so he shifted his focus into tai chi.
This book is an unusual and difficult one to categorize. It is part autobiography, part chess memoir, part martial arts philosophy. Essentially, Waitzkin offers his own approach to becoming a student and applying certain disciplines and habits toward learning and eventually mastering any skill. Your mileage may vary, but for a 29 year old, Waitzkin's insights seem mature beyond his years. It is almost unfair for a young person to be so accomplished and insightful, and I mean that as a complement.
In many ways, "The Art of Learning" reminded me of "Flow" by Mihaly Csiksentmihaly. Focusing on the task and hand in getting better at it rather than obsessing over results and outcomes can be a liberating experience, paving the way toward learning and eventual mastery.
Whether you are a chess player or martial arts practitioner, "The Art of Learning" is a very effective study in one approach to building your skills in any realm. The book could have benefited from both an index and bullet-point suggestions for the reader, but these are minor quibbles regarding what is an excellent book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a: I'm sure / acknowledge that the author is brillant; a genius.Read more