Thursday, October 26, 2006


Practice can take on a double meaning. The first meaning of the word pertains to the way things are done. One enters into a new situation or setting, for example, and wonder, "What is the practice here?" The second sense in which we use practice is that of training before an actual performance or event (ex. basketball practice vs. actual basketball game). In Tagalog we say, "Practice lang ito" to make it clear that the act is not yet the real thing.

When we enter into a new situation, we learn the practices through observation and eventually learn to embody them through constant repitition. Unlike theater or sports performances, however, most of the practices in life are indistinguishable from actual performance and the repitition is done unconsciously.

Almost all of the time (except during those times when we do role-playing during organizational development trainings), we do not train to live nor train before actual situations. We just act once the situation or the stimuli is presented to us and because of our sense of the appropriate practice given particular stimuli or situations, we "know" (we just know) what we need to do and we do it oftentimes without conscious deliberation.

A lot of our training happened when we were children but our parents were not fulltime coaches (nor were most of them aware that they were coaches. Sometimes we learn from them from their reactions to our action but more often than not, we learn from them by merely observing them and their practices. In that sense, they are unconscious teachers and we are unconscious learners.

And when we behave as they do, we do not practice behavior in the sense of training. We just behave. We may not engage in competent practice but we engage in practice in real time, as it were), nonetheless (as opposed to time for practice). Most of the time, there is no distinction between the backstage and the actual performance. If we are beginners, we may make mistakes but with constant repitition in real time, we become adept at the correct practice. Sometimes our behavior effects a favorable or an unfavorable response from others but most of the time, people do not react to what we are doing (because for them, what we are doing is the most natural thing in the world; it is part of their taken-for-granted).

And so we engage in particular sets of practices because our behavior is not noticed and therefore acceptable or because we have been told to engage in such practices and avoid their opposites. Over time, we repeat these practices and pretty soon, they become part of our taken-for-granteds and we pass these on to the next generation.

Next Post: Monday, October 30.

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