Repetition

I’ve recently moved house, and for the first time have all my books in one place. This evening was one of the first chances I have had to actually make use of them. I re-read some dog-eared passages from Richard Sennett’s amazing, rambling book The Craftsman.

I’m glad I re-discovered this passage – a defence of repetition:

We should be suspicious of claims for innate, untrained talent. “I could write a good novel if only I had the time” or “if only I could pull myself together” is usually a narcissist’s fantasy. Going over an action again and again, by contrast, enables self-criticism. Modern education fears repetitive learning as mind-numbing. Afraid of boring children, avid to present ever-different stimulation, the enlightened teacher may avoid routine – but thus deprive children of the experience of studying their own ingrained practice and modulating it from within.”

I particularly agree with reference to a subject like Latin – so much of the joy of what Mary Beard calls the “command and control” of Latin comes from the pencil-breaking frustration of all those mistakes – all that self-correcting – early on.