Illusion of understanding

illusion of understanding

I’ve just read a fanststic article in the Harvard Business Review – The internet makes you think you’re smarter than your are: an interview with Matthew Fisher (a great resource for S&C coaches – not just people that wear suits) and it struck a chord with me.

My son (Joe) is 3 years old and he has a particularly tough line of questioning – it goes something like this…

Joe: “Dad, what makes a rainbow?”

Me: “When it’s sunny and raining at the same time, rainbows appear.”

Joe: WHY?

Me: “The sunshine shines on the raindrops and makes all of the nice colours.”

Joe: WHY?

Me: “Well….sunshine is made up of lots of different colours, so when it shines on the raindrop it splits up and we can see all of the nice colours that make sunshine”

Joe: WHY?

Me: “it’s all about angles, different colours and speed…”

Joe: WHY?

Me: “errr…..the rainbow fairies shoot multicloured paint out of a rainbow making machine – cool!!”

Joe: “OK, thanks Dad”

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that rainbow fairy has been at it again…

I think I know how rainbows are made and I’m pretty good until the questioning goes deeper – then I’m screwed! I’ve got an illusion of understanding of the whole rainbow thing!

This is a problem I see on a regular basis when I’m delivering workshops and seminars to coaches working in the fitness profession.

There are a lot of strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers that will knock a question out of the park – until you ask them WHY? Then a glazed expression comes over their face and we get the ‘rainbow making machine’ answer.

They KNOW the answer – but they don’t UNDERSTAND.

They have an illusion of understanding and this is sometimes enough to get them through the day – maybe they don’t get asked WHY by their clients.

To be fair, it’s not their fault – they’ve never really had to dig deep for information and this is the problem.

I’m old and when I tried to find information out it was an absolute ball ache. I had to visit a library, look on shelves for journals (maybe send off for them and wait 2-weeks for them to arrive), then I would find out some t*&t had ripped the article out that I needed. It took time and effort to develop knowledge – you had to immerse yourself in the subject.

Today – I just have to complete an internet search and I have more information than I know what to do. I think I know it all!

Big problem – free access to loads of information can give you an ‘illusion of understanding’ – it’s easy to get a general grasp, but when pushed by my son Joe – you realise that you don’t UNDERSTAND the subject at all.


Take some time to read the article in the Harvard Business Review and remember, when you think you know it all, ask yourself, will I stand up to a Q&A with Joe?

However, the percentage that utilized games to teach was http://www.essaydragon.com/ smaller 55 percent
Nick GranthamIllusion of understanding

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