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I have been thinking a lot about aptitude.

It began last year, when I was asked to teach knitting to groups of community residents. Having worked as an academic instructor in a past life, I felt fairly comfortable taking on the task. I set a curriculum, with a plan to cover a series of basic skills within a specific time frame. I imagined beginning each session by demonstrating a new technique, which we would then all practice and master as a group.

What I soon discovered however, was that even in small groups, the ability to pick up these skills differed so dramatically from one person to the next it was impractical to hold the classes in the manner I had envisioned. What one person mastered intuitively before I’d finish explaining it, another would be unable to replicate even after repeated physical demonstrations.

After that, I altered the format of my teaching to be less class-like, and more like personalised sessions held in a group setting. I spent more time with each student …

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