Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Curse of Knowledge

Werewolves, educators, leaders - we have a lot in common when you think about it : lonely, misunderstood, living under a secret curse, liable to turn into a raging monster under the light of the full moon - ok well maybe not the last bit - but are we (not the werewolf) Cursed by Knowledge? *

Yesterday I was creating a short video tutorial for new students on an e-learning programme and, wanting to show them how to download an electronic journal article, I selected - entirely at random - one from the Harvard Business Review in 2006 entitled The Curse of Knowledge.

It describes an experiment where one group of students had to tap out a tune with their fingers whilst the other half of the group had to guess the tunes. (You might like to try this at home.....!)

Heath D & Heath C -The Curse of Knowledge (2006)Harvard Business Review Vol 84 Dec

Does this resonate with any students, educators or leaders out there? The article goes on to recommend that leaders use concrete language and stories to illustrate points and make knowledge transmissable to others. Good advice. But I think what really struck me (as an educator) was how easily we forget what it is like to learn something once we have become masters of our art. I teach salsa classes and some times I am flabbergasted by how hard people find it to grasp the basic rhythms. In my day job I try to encourage students (and sometimes colleagues) to use blogs and wikis and social networking tools and can't understand why they find it difficult: my curse is that I sometimes forget what it is like to be back at that apalling place of not knowing, feeling stupid, clumsy, and frightened of making mistakes (as long as I remain within MY comfort zones, that is!)..............

So lets all make a resolution to go out and learn something new, difficult and challenging at least once a year - and enjoy watching the teacher turn into a werewolf when we don't get it!!

*(and yes that was a pathetic link to allow me to use this great movie poster)

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