Learning new things is all about challenging your brain. With guides, walkthroughs and how-tos for just about everything out there, it’s easy to forget just how important it is to not always know the answers. Writer Annie Murphy Paul suggests intentionally withholding answers from yourself to really learn.
Picture: Karl Baron/Flickr
In most cases, an answer to your problem is out there. While it’s always quicker to look up the solution, every now and again it’s good to force yourself to work it out on your own. Paul explains:
We’ve heard a lot lately about the benefits of experiencing and overcoming failure. One way to get these benefits is to set things up so that you’re sure to fail — by tackling a difficult problem without any instruction or assistance. Manu Kapur, a researcher at the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education of Singapore, has reported (in the Journal of the Learning Sciences) that people who try solving maths problems in this way don’t come up with the right answer — but they do generate a lot of ideas about the nature of the problems and about what potential solutions would look like, leading them to perform better on such problems in the future… you can implement it in your own learning by allowing yourself to struggle with a problem for a while before seeking help or information.
We know failure is important, but setting yourself up for it isn’t the easiest thing to do. So when you have some extra time to spend on a project, dig into it before you really know what you’re doing. You might not walk away with the Mona Lisa, but you’ll be better suited to tackle the problem in the future.
FULL TEXT: Why Feeling Confused Will Help You Learn Better [Annie Murphy Paul]