"In their book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, three professors devoted an entire chapter to what they call “illusions of knowing” (Brown, Roediger III, & McDaniel, 2014). Steve picked up this text, and this chapter in particular, because he was preparing to teach the play Oedipus to a group of 9th graders. He wanted to skip the usual fare — plot, character development, poetic structure — and dig into the ways in which the main character’s ego and bias blinded him to what he clearly should have seen. Increasingly, for Steve, this seems to be a lesson worth teaching and learning.
Oedipus, the main character, begins by setting out to find a murderer and bring him to justice. Oedipus is known as a person who invests his considerable resources and competencies, first and foremost, in being a good citizen of Thebes. He wants to serve the people of Thebes and be known as a first-rate fixer. This behavior is important to the story others tell about him, and perhaps more critically, to the story he tells himself about himself.
The main problem is that Oedipus, himself, is the murderer he seeks. So it’s a mystery story wherein the detective is seeking himself. However, it is also a story about human psychology, because Oedipus can’t find himself (back in roughly 430 b.c.) for the same reasons that some professors must still write a book for teachers (back in roughly 2014) that exhorts them to help students avoid illusions of knowing.
Each of us is an astounding bundle of perceptual and cognitive abilities, coexisting with the seeds of our own undoing. When it comes to learning, what we choose to do is guided by our judgments of what works and what doesn’t, and we are easily misled. (Brown, Roediger III, & McDaniel, 2014, p. 123)
The very mind that helps Oedipus, and any human being, to thrive also causes him, and us, to stumble, often making thriving a mere afterthought.
As Steve was grasping the combined insight of a Greek poet and modern day learning specialists, he was in the process of making the largest purchase in his life, a new home. And as he went through the buying process, he realized that he wasn't searching for money, because, with his wife, he had saved what he needed to reach his goal. And he wasn't searching for time, because he was a school administrator heading into the summer. He was searching for something else."
We're grateful for this review from Andrew Bevan in the latest Klingbrief newsletter.
It is helpful to help others understand your operating beliefs so that they better understand the ways in which you are trying to help them.
Steve and I were guests on Rose Rock Dynamics' podcast The Intersect with Dr. Nabeel Ahmad, one of that firm's founders and principals. Check it out here.
Our latest column on Edsurge features an interview with the valuation expert Aswath Damodaran who currently teaches at NYU's Stern School of Business.
Our latest newsletter features a story about email and speed.
It was nice to see Elm Street Books in New Canaan, CT carrying Make Yourself Clear. The store manager asked me to sign a few copies and added an 'autographed copy' sticker to each one. That's a nice move.
Steve and I were thrilled to be guests on Donald Kelly's Sales Evangelist podcast. Read the excellent summary and listen here.
I realized I have a small collection of doodles that were created for the book but were not included in the final version because the related sections were edited out. Here is one that was connected to a section on my screen casting origins.
"The format we have chosen to deliver this section’s topic, then, is fraught with irony and opens us to possible charges of hypocrisy. We are going to teach you about immediacy in one of the least immediate formats currently available: a printed book. To compensate, we will offer some format experiments to promote active learning as you read. A good teacher might refer to using devices such as note-taking templates or mind maps. Their goal in using such instruments is to make thinking visible. Having thought through where our lesson could go wrong for our leaners, our goal is similar: to help you see and surface your thinking at the times when such a practice will, hopefully, be most valuable to you. While we are at it, we are also hoping to avoid unfunny irony and possible hypocrisy – or the eventuality that you will stop reading altogether. With all of that off our chests, that somewhat winding road of a paragraph leads to our opening analogy."