2008-04-02

How to guide an audience from novice to expert

The article "The Hero's Journey: Are You Experienced?" uses the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition to explain how people learn: Initially, when they are novices, they cannot handle a lot of contradictions. They want to be told what to do and everything must be simple and consistent. Combine this with the observation that abstractions must be built by amassing concrete examples, and one can derive a few rules for teaching (some of them borrowed from "Hero's Journey"):
  • Don't start with an overview (of the subject, its history, etc.).
  • Don't start with the abstractions (the result), start with the concrete examples.
  • Keep things initially simple, add ambivalence later (to complete the knowledge).

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