I am sure I have talked about this stuff before, but it came up recently in a discussion so I figured I should put it here.
Let me draw a picture of learning.
The path of learning goes through the swamp of confusion. Suppose you are in a class and you are confused. This is good. If you are not confused, you are not going through the learning process.
All too often I see a student put their big toe in the swamp. It is icky, so they stop. Their thoughts are:
This can’t be the right way. I am sure I made a wrong turn somewhere. I can’t possibly go through this. If this IS indeed the way to go, I must be dumb or I wouldn’t be confused.
The only way you can get to the mountain peak of understanding without going through the swamp is if you already understood the idea. The real unfortunate thing is that students rarely see the swamp. Too many of their courses have a path that takes through a quick tour of the rose garden. Sure, it smells nice – but did you get anywhere?
I know, my analogy isn’t perfect. A student may say: “well, if the swamp is in the way, why don’t you just take me to the mountain in your helicopter?” In this case, I switch analogies. Can you become a better runner by riding really far in a car? Or do you have to run?