Thursday, December 2, 2010

Backgammon Philosophy

Tonight, as Tamaz and I sat down for our (almost) nightly ritual of backgammon and began to play, I came to realize something...I'm really not very good at it. Which wouldn't be such a problem if he didn't get so visibly (and vocally) frustrated with my performance...and you haven't really heard anything til you hear this man yell. Tamazi's exact words had me pinned as a tsudi mostsavle (bad student) and let me say, coming to the conclusion that you are struggling with something is one thing...being told by someone that you are, in effect, not trying very hard is quite another. You would think after weeks of observing experienced players and playing my fair share that I would have learned something in the process. Maybe I have; maybe my current slump has more to do with the fact that I am experimenting with different ways to play to find out what my unique strategy is. And maybe that's just a big fat excuse that serves only to mask the real reason I thought I was doing so well...the pure dumb luck of the dice.

So, of course, in my typical self analysis I have taken this small incident to look at my overall character. Because, let's face it, backgammon isn't the real problem here.

I am drawn to Tamazi's evaluation: bad student. Now I know that he says it because he wants me to improve myself but I have to ask myself, am I a bad student because I only pursue those things that I perceive to be interesting at first but when I find out how much hard work they really are I tend to slack off? Or worse, do I just deem those things that I find unimportant in the grand scheme (i.e. backgammon) to be not worth troubling over and write them off? What, if anything, has really ever been my passion?

Or is it just the blunt force honesty that hits so hard? As usual I equate criticism of me (however constructive it is meant) to be dislike of me. I think it upsets me so much partly because I'm worried that he thinks that my poor performance in backgammon betrays the same character flaw I see and thinks less of me for it. Which then only serves to make me more frustrated with myself.

So on one hand...if my self analysis is correct I am a directionless wanderer unable to identify what is important to me chiefly because I am so worried about pleasing everyone around me that I have lost sight (if I ever had any to begin with) of who I am.

On the other's just a game! Sheesh!

1 comment:

  1. Amy,

    This is also one example of lacking (or better say - complete absence) of the concept of positive reinforcement in Georgian education system. I'm pretty much sure that you, as a teacher already have encountered it.

    And people who have being raised in the system where positive reinforcement is nonexistent obviously will use the same methods when teaching others, even when it is teaching backgammon....

    Sad situation on one hand, but on another hand - this is the reason why you are there - to change their paradigm. If you can show that positive reinforcement works much more effectively then screaming 'bad student' it would show people around you that there are re better and more efficient ways to reach goals.