Dealing with new concepts

Research among a group of first-year students in Oxford showed that they were mainly hampered in dealing with new concepts by a lack of explicit explanation and an explicit transfer between the existing prior knowledge and the new concepts. The students further noted that explicitly learning metacognitive skills comes at the expense of mastering the learning material itself. Moreover, they noted that you first need to have a lot of knowledge about a subject before you can think critically about it. If you reverse that process, you fall into sophistic reasoning. Which means; using a lot of words to camouflage the lack of content. When analyzing information that is new to them, experts immediately rule out many alternatives, while only giving a green light to a few insights as worth including in the analysis. It is different with students. They still have to master the basic concepts of complex theories. Their brains do not rule out a large number of alternatives in advance, but in order to analyze new knowledge, they have to weigh all the ins and outs against each other. They desperately need their teachers to create some order in the information mess and that is exactly what these Oxford students were asking for. If this applies to gifted first-year students, it applies even more to adolescents in secondary education. They have to acquire a large amount of new knowledge, the core concepts of which have not yet been adequately captured in neural networks in their brains. An overly linear curriculum then hinders the acquisition of basic intellectual principles and leads to implicit assumptions, fragmentation and sophistical reasoning. Distractions, wild guesses and misleading concepts get in the way of efficient learning. They affect neural circuits other than those required for learning the relevant subjects or skills. Students who are confronted with learning material or an approach that they are not mentally ready for, try to reduce uncertainty, fear of failure and confusion through distractions, wild guesses and misleading concepts. This means that the learning process involves trial and error. and that the outcomes are based more on chance than on conscious learning.