Confuse Students to Help Them Learn

Confusing sometimes helps cats, so why not students?

I’m afraid your cat badly needs to be confused.

imageConfusion is a powerful force in education. It can send students reeling toward boredom and complacency. But being confused can also prompt students to work through impasses and arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the world.

“Common wisdom holds that confusion should be avoided during learning and rapidly resolved if and when it arises,” wrote a team of researchers in a paper published earlier this year. While this might be true when it comes to superficial tasks such as memorizing facts and figures, “Confusion is likely to promote learning at deeper levels of comprehension under appropriate conditions.”

In other words: If teachers want students to learn the really important stuff, like comprehending difficult texts and modeling complex systems, they should put their students in confusing situations. —The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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