Overcome the Knowledge Gap
The great teacher Sokrates delivered complex knowledge by asking a sequence of questions. Each question was building on answers to previous questions provided by the student. This more than 2400 year old teaching technique is still in wide-spread use today.
A good teacher opens a gap between their’s and the learner’s knowledge. This knowledge gap makes the learner aware that they do not know the answer to a burning question.
This creates a tension in the learner’s mind. To close this gap, the learner awaits receiving the missing piece of knowledge from the teacher. Even better, the learner starts developing own answers.
The learner craves knowledge.
Code puzzles open an immediate knowledge gap. When looking at the code, you as a learner first do not understand what the puzzle means. The puzzle’s semantic is hidden. But only you can transform the unsolved puzzle into a solved one. Look at this riddle: What pulls you down and never lets go? Can you feel the tension? The answer is “Gravity”. Opening and closing a knowledge gap is a very powerful method for effective learning.
Bad teachers open a knowledge gap that is too large. The learner feels frustrated because they can not overcome the gap. Suppose you are standing before a river that you must overcome. Your parents did not teach you to swim, yet. The first river is the Colorado River that carved out the Grand Canyon – quite a gap. The second river is the Rattlesnake Creek. The fact that you have never heard of this river indicates that it is not too big of an obstacle. Most likely, you will not even attempt to overcome the Colorado River. But you could swim over the Rattlesnake if you stretch your abilities just a little bit. You will focus, pep-talk yourself, and overcome the obstacle. As a result, your swimming skills and self-confidence will grow a little bit.
Puzzles are like the Rattlesnake – they are not too hard of a challenge. You must stretch yourself to solve them, but you can do it if you go all-in.
Constantly feeling a small but non-trivial knowledge gap creates a healthy learning environment. Stretch your limits, overcome the knowledge gap, and become better – one puzzle at a time.
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