"The Curse of Knowledge"

As part of a district team book study, I recently read Dan and Chip Heath's Made to Stick. It's a fascinating book about what makes some ideas "stick" while others go in one ear and out the other. They look at ideas in advertising, business, marketing, and of course - education.

One concept they bring up is what they term, "The Curse of Knowledge." In short, the curse is this:

Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has "cursed" us. It becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind.*

It got me to thinking about how this applies to education. When do we - as teachers, administrators, technology directors - make assumptions about what our audience knows? When do we talk over their heads and then blame them for now understanding? The truth is, I think it happens way too much.

When communicating with each other, with parents, and with students we must carefully examine our perspective and assure we are not "cursed" by our own knowledge.

For more info, see http://www.madetostick.com/

* Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.


Ms R said…
I think we have a curse of knowledge with our students, trying to create a mindset of a world without technology when they cannot comprehend a world without it.
Dr. Roland Rios said…
It's the old "digital immigrants" viewpoint in a "digital native" world!
k-ro said…
I have listened to speeches about a "new species" of homo sapiens has evolved. The speaker went on stating that we have evolved to live two duo lives, one that is in itself, virtual and the other is our actual living self. What is interesting is that the speaker said that we are now having to live two lives, and for adolescents, this includes two stages of adolescence, and remembering how hard it was dealing with just our natural state, having to become responsible for two identities is causing not only an identity crisis but it is leaving teens and children not fully sure where they are going because not enough time to really develop a sense of self because their time is
spread over too many things.

as for speaking to an audience, it is true that we forget that these future generations do not know what it was like to not be with technology. we therefore must give them simulations of what it is like to not be connected. they need to understand what is happening to them, so further research should be done on the effects of technology and adolescent development (for middle and high school teachers. I am considering taking this subject as a potential thesis to write on. Interesting info.

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