The Zombie Within
by Alva Noë
Yes, athletes, musicians, drivers and chess players, when they are in the flow, can act fast without needing to make decisions about what to do. But this is not because they aren't thinking. Nor is it because they are thinking really fast. It's because they are thinking about what matters, such as the musical ideas or the traffic or the potential vulnerability of the King to attack. Mastery consists precisely in shifting attention from the mechanics of a task to, if you like, the task's point.
Nothing illustrates this better than the case of language itself. We learn to decline and conjugate so that we can talk. The learner of a second language needs to give painstaking attention to grammatical choices and rules. But conversation — thoughtful participation in the parry and thrust, the give and take — requires that we stop focusing on the grammar and start focusing on what we are doing. What is required is not that we become automata, or forget the grammar; what is required is that we become masters of it.
via Michelle Merritt