Friday, October 5, 2007

Intelligence and Confusion

"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief."
Mr. Knightley, Jane Austen's Emma

I tell my students that asking questions when they are confused is a sign of intelligence.

Let me explain that.

Two possible things happen when people are confused: they recognize the confusion, or they do not. The ones who do not tend to forget whatever it was that confused them. So, for instance, a student may read the assigned chapter for homework, but he won't remember a thing---and he probably won't wonder why. He'll just assume he doesn't remember things he reads very well, when the real problem is that his reading comprehension skills are not at th level he needs to understand the text.

Those whose conscious minds do in fact register confusion tend to react to it in one of two ways. The most common response is to say something like, "That's dumb!" (Translation: I don't get it, and I don't feel like finding out why I don't get it, therefore the problem is with the concept, and not with me.)

The other (more intelligent, and generally more practical) response is to ask questions, listen openly, get clarification and *gasp!* resolve the confusion!

Now, speaking for myself as an educator, I have a great deal more respect for people who respond in the latter fashion. I have absolutely no respect for opinions formed based on needlessly ignorant filling in of the blanks, especially when ignorance can be easily fixed with a quick look at reliable publicly available documentation. I get even more annoyed when ignorant filling in of blanks is presented as "fact".

I once heard someone wisely point out that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Maybe it has something to do with keeping our feet out of that mouth.

So you can imagine my opinion of what went on recently at The View.

'nuff said.

Nod: Tito

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