Cognitive effort and auto-pilot
Psychologists have long observed that muggles like us shift into auto-pilot to save cognitive effort.
We’re all cognitive misers.
But sometimes it’s a good idea to break habits.
For example, I look for teaching moments throughout the day: opportunities when I can help a student figure our something for herself.
Sometimes I end up doing rather than guiding.
I’ll sit in class, pen in hand, scribbling notes as students ask questions.
Someone will ask me a question about theories or books or history.
When I should be saying, “you can look up that information yourself,” I find myself saying, “Let me do that for you.”
I need to learn to be more nimble in helping students learn to help themselves.
And while I want to be adored by my students, I will be a better teacher if a can guide them rather than provide them with the answers.
Starting today I am putting in the front of my mind a reminder to wait for that teaching moment and to be better prepared at helping folks help themselves.
Painting by Joshua Hargrave Sams Mann (1826–1886) used on a book jacket for the novel, Silas Marner, one of literature’s most noteworthy misers, penned by George Eliot.