― Michael Jordan
Jordan was famously the first person to the gym to practice and the last one to leave. It would always surprise rookie journalists when they would go in and see the great Michael Jordan working on basic drills, even at the end of his career.
Jiro Ono, regarded as the greatest sushi chef in the world, has a similar dedication to fundamentals. His apprentices, which have included his sons, spend years mastering basic elements of sushi preparation, like cooking the rice or making a level omelette layer.
Giotto, and the rest of the renaissance artists, would spend their first years in an apprenticeship simply mixing paint. Once that was mastered, they were then allowed to start creating art; at first, they were limited to painting draped cloth. Only after a few more years could they begin painting more complex subjects.
Academic fundamentals often get short shrift in this country. In English class, we rarely teach grammar; we often look at mastering math fundamentals as "rote" learning. (There are ways to make working on basic skills fun and engaging.)
Often, the complaint is that "rote learning" will kill creativity. But that is clearly false in other domains. Why is this myth so widespread?