Great, Good, Uh-Oh

We think, and that’s great.  Whether it is the intentional, purposeful (and hopefully frequent) act of reflection or the automated, efficient processing of information during dynamic tasks such as driving, thinking is vital.  This would go without saying, except ‘tis nobler has just said it.

We know, and that’s good.  Usually, knowledge comes from education and it does provide useful starting points.  Is it unfair to suggest that this knowledge is necessary but never sufficient?  The demands of life require more than knowledge, they require the wisdom gained through experience rather than books or lectures.  Knowing is good, wisdom is great.

We think we know, and that’s where the uh-oh comes in.  Thinking we know, often without either knowing or thinking, can create all sorts of problems.  One example is in the false memories we have of our performance and behaviour.  To fill in the short-term gaps, we ‘remember’ things that never happened, we assume or infer rather than recall.  How often have you heard people explain their mistakes by saying “I thought that ….” when this thinking is at odds with the situation?

These inferred memories can be held with much confidence although the evidence is that high-confidence memory errors are more likely to be corrected than either low-confidence memories or guesses.  Perhaps people express greater confidence in their memories of things they know more about and are therefore more likely to be receptive to change.  However, this didn’t appear to be the case although prior knowledge might not be the most relevant factor – the value people place on the task could be a more powerful explanation.  It is unclear to what extent this effect translates to things we do rather than things we know.

Still, this has interesting and important implications for experiential learning and behavioural change.  So often, confidence and overconfidence pose problems for experiential learners; being confident in the things we think we know or the things that we think we did may be more amenable to change once feedback has been provided.

The main character in this fascinating animation has no option but to use her imagination in order to close the gaps between what she thinks, what she knows and what she thinks she knows.  Learners can close these gaps through effortful, purposeful and reflective experience.  Imagine that:

Finding your own way can be great at times; at other times, it can be good and, occasionally, uh-oh.  Can you see the differences between thinking, knowing and thinking you know?  What will you do about them?

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