Stages of Learning

There are a number of stages for learning how to perform something. Each stage corresponds to a level of proficiency.


The first stage of learning is experiencing something or observing it. This observation is usually accompanied by admiration. The admiration causes the observation to be keen. Admiration also attracts the person to performing what he has observed or experienced.


If a person passes such a stage of observation accompanied by admiration he can then go to the stage of imitation. This is no trivial stage. Actually, the more one stages in the imitation stage the more is he capable of gaining skill in performing what he is doing and the better he is able to advance to higher levels of performance attained at further stages.

One should not attempt to cut this imitation stage short or look at it in a demeaning way. Imitation in itself is an admirable and important skill. It helps one learn and perform well very rapidly.

The more keen the observation was and the higher the admiration during the previous stage the more likely the imitation would be done well.


After observation, admiration and imitation the person may be able to advance to a third stage which is the stage of modification. Not everyone is able to advance to this level. Some stay within the confines of the imitation stage only. Some even do not go beyond the initial stage of observation thus never imitating nor performing even in cases where the observation was accompanied by admiration. In the third stage which is modification, the performer is still relaying largely on copying from others and imitating what he has observed or experienced and admired yet he is introducing some modifications of his own and starting to have his own distinct style.

Creating from Scratch

This modification stage may lead to a fourth stage which is building from scratch. In this fourth stage the performer drops all traces of imitation and has his own style completely.


The fifth and final stage is reached by the highest performers. In such stage the performer is able to fully design what he will be performing before he starts performing it. This contrasts with the building from scratch stage in which one attempts to perform directly without having an overall grand design first.

Performance stages are stages of gaining proficiency in something. Not everyone will be able to go through all the stages when learning to perform something new. Some get stuck within one stage and never get beyond it throughout their lives never advancing to the next level.

Do you have a skill for which you have reached the design stage? What is that skill? Tell us about some of the stages you went through with that skill till you’ve reached the design stage with that skill.


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