Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning is Controlled Confusion

As a teacher, I prided myself on teaching the highest level of content. I taught past the last comprehension of a student in my classes. My philosophy on learning is: I learn when I address an idea I've not previously encountered. Therefore, learning begins with confusion. As part of the learning process, a student must learn to be confortable with confusion, and logically progress to a point of knowledge.

When presenting information, I presented it from many angles; however, if a student did not understand, I was "okay" and I moved on with the lesson. On any given day, a student may or may not be prepared to listen and work. I assumed the first students would fall off the lesson at 30% of concept, and the best student would depart at 85% of the content. The majority would understand 65% of the content. I expected my "student understanding level" to be a bell curve.

Just was the students grouped together in the middle of the content, I used the most time on the middle content. I did teach to 100%: the final 10% were high level topics, and the final 5% were key terms. The beginning 15% percent was quick review.

Exposure to higher level information sparks the students mind, and potentially fixes unresolving issues on the lower level information.

I encourage all teachers to teach students to be "okay" with confusion. It is the personal state which causes the most growth. The true power of knowledge is not knowing the answer, but finding the answer.

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