I, The Absolute

Clarity as the goal of learning

Posted by itheabsolute on June 3, 2005

Our Stats teacher, Prof Waterman of Wharton was wrapping up the course with a five minute review of the ‘10 hours’ of classes he had taught. It could not have been done better. He covered all that was to be covered and did not go beyond five minutes. What made such a thing possible?

Clarity of thought was the hallmark of these Profs from the big schools. Apart from bringing their learning from cutting edge research and industry-interface experience, they brought tremendous clarity with their thinking.

When one is clear about what one knows or what one does not, things become easy. Consequently, Clarity should be the goal of any learning. As I reflect, I realize that my biggest failures have been caused by lack of clarity in thought (including being unclear about how to execute).

But clarity is not easy to achieve. There are always potential confusers. How to handle confusers? When in doubt, plug in numbers; one good way is to quantify. Using a white paper to jolt out what is understood can give an opportunity to read out one’s own thoughts and scan any potential inconsistencies in conceptual understanding, is another. Applying what one has learnt to practical situations can be good too. Conversation enriches understanding – it always pays to speak out what one claims one knows. Explaining / Teaching a subject one has learnt to someone who is a layman. That is, trying to put what one knows in ‘simple’ English can be very effective in clearing confusers and clarifying thoughts.

Easier said than done. Sure. But what was ever achieved without trying. Seeking clarity, in whatever I presume I know or wanting to know, will be the goal of my education.

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