Do you take pauses in your learning journey? Are these pauses predefined or are they unintentional? The learning journey is a journey and it requires us to sometimes plan and other times let pauses happen. 

We have heard about spacing in learning to help reflection and redirection. How is pausing different?

Let’s take an example here. Imagine you are learning how to knit with peers and an instructor. Spacing in learning is when you predefine the break between two sessions with your instructor. Pauses in learning are when you take a momentary break during the session. Spacing is between two experiences, pausing is within one experience. Both are vital and impact learning in distinct ways. 

In this blog, we will dive into the process of pausing, the value of pausing, and how to build the ‘pause’ muscle. 

Process of pausing in learning

Learning itself requires intentionality and balancing the lag time between the input and the output.

Let’s take two examples:

Example 1: Your instructor is teaching you patchwork. You follow her verbal instructions and continue your patchwork without peeking to see how she holds the needles, angles, and the loop. In this experience, you are following the instructions but missing out on the techniques. This is less intentional but speeds the output. 

Example 2: Your instructor is teaching you patchwork. You follow her verbal instructions and continue your patchwork but take pauses to peek at the instructor’s techniques.  You notice how she moves the left hand for mobility and stability to continue looping. In this experience, you are following instructions and learning the foundations of knitting that build towards mastery. This is intentional and even though your output might be delayed, the techniques learned are building mastery for the next learning experience. 

How is pausing valuable?

Pausing impacts learning in 3 ways:

1. Process check

Pausing gives us an opportunity to do a check for understanding of the current process and make changes if required. You might take a moment to think:

  • Ah, I have been creating small loops and hence my design looks cluttered OR
  • Ah, my design is too far apart because of the space between the loops.

2. Emotional check

Pausing helps us look deeper within to reevaluate our emotional responses. How many times have we had a frown on our face while learning because we were not completely present? You might say:

  • Eh, I am not feeling the energy, what’s wrong?
  • Oh, I am really enjoying this, how can I continue this?

3. Progress check

Pausing is a way to notice progress and change tracks. It gives us the opportunity to push further or reevaluate and push in a different direction. You might say:

  • Hmm, I am repeating my steps and yet my design is not improving, what can I do better?
  • This is great, I am improving consistently, what challenges can I grab next? 

As learners, it is our intentionality and confidence that allows for positive pauses. 

How do we build a ‘pause’ muscle?

I believe we can build the ‘pause’ muscle with practice and framing. Let’s take a look at three actionable steps to build the ‘pause’ muscle:

1. Grab ‘low’ and ‘high moments 

During any learning journey, find moments when you feel high and low. High moments need pauses that build up the momentum and low moments need pauses for reflection and action

2. Create an intention for pauses

Learning has to be personal and your pause moments should be built to help you become better. If a peer is not pausing at the exact moment, that is alright. Pauses are like breath work, each individual has their own rhythm and depth.

3. Action after the pause

A pause is valuable when it is momentary. It helps reflection and redirection. Learn from the pause and return to the learning journey with energy

Unlearning Thought

Let’s unlearn that rush is the only key ingredient for performance. There is a time to rush and a time to pause.