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Confusion is the beginning of learning

Some years ago I wrote a book titled Huh? Oh. Aha! in which I described activities for learners that required them to ask a series of questions.
Fortunately, the publisher cancelled the contract. I used a lot of jargon that got in the way. In Small changes in teaching, big results in learning, I have re written many of the chapters minus the jargon and with more specific examples of activities we can use to engage our students in activities that require thinking and predicting rather than memory.

Mark Helgesen sent me a page from a book titled Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die as I was working on my book. He had found this quote in the book: “Mysteries are powerful, Cialdini says, because they create a need for closure. ‘You’ve heard of the famous Aha” experience, right?’ he says. ‘Well the Aha! experiences much more satisfying when it is preceded by the Huh? experience.”

Mark sent me this quote from the book because he knew I had been writing a book titled Huh? Oh. Aha!

Before I paste a chapter from Small changes below about how we can overcome confusion by questioning rather than by having someone telling us how to overcome our confusion through explanations I must say a word about Mark.

He has not only written many successful textbooks but to me equally importantly he asks us to think about problems in new ways. “Maybe our students sleep in class because they are tired.” is one of his too me very insightful comments. He shares research that shows that having students walk around the room a few times every so many minutes and having students come to the desk to pick up papers and handouts rather than the teacher walking around the room to distribute them can raise the amount of oxygen in the blood so students are less tired!

Anyway here is a chapter in which I show how students can overcome confusion through asking a series of questions.

Enjoy, enjoy.

4.1 Is it a bird?

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