Of course, I really did not "figure out" how to lift the puck. I did not know the theory behind the lifting action. And to the extent that the skill was necessary, I didn’t need to understand the theory.
The lesson is this:
When learning something new that you will need for later use, master the mechanics first. You can learn why it works later.
* * * Warning: possible straw man ahead * * *
A great chunk of my own elementary math education was founded on the contrary belief, that rote recall is, in fact, achievable by everyone — that all it takes is practice. Accordingly, my classmates and I were regularly drilled and tested on the multiplication tables. I did not do well, and I argued with my teachers. Ultimately, I was punished for my inability to memorize the 12 x tables.
I don’t believe that my recall difficulties are exceptional. The more blogs I read, the more I suspect that there are many people who, no matter how much they practice, will never possess rote recall of the basic arithmetic facts. In that sense, those people can never know the basic facts.
"we are introducing a new check to ensure all pupils know their times tables by age 11"
What is of concern to me in Alberta is that, however sincere the back-to-basics people may be, they seem to be basing their reform efforts on the very thing that caused me difficulties, namely, the belief that all students can and must achieve rote recall, that this is the only way to know the basic facts.