A game that is confusing is a bad game. A book that confuses is a bad book.
It is important to understand that confusion is a huge source of discomfort. Moreover, experiencing it without the resources to resolve it could lead to frustration and disengagement. Confusion forces us to reconcile our understanding with what is going on around us so we can adapt to our constantly changing environment.
Opposed to popular beliefs, recent studies have demonstrated that confusion can lead us to learn more efficiently, more deeply, more lastingly—if it is properly managed.
Famous writer Tom Peters writes in his book, ‘Thriving on Chaos’ – “If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” Confusion is shown to benefit learning under specific conditions: when it’s related to the material you’re trying to understand, and when you have the necessary support to work through the confusion.
Too much confusion can make the child frustrated, not enough confusion can make things monotonous. Just the right amount and we become curious and learn.
Here are a few ways you can channel confusion to facilitate learning for your children.
1. Take a pre-test
The standard practice followed is studying the material and then taking a test to check your knowledge and understanding on the particular topic. Toppling these age-old practices studies by Nate Kornell, a psychology professor at Williams College, and others show that trying to answer questions about material you haven’t even seen yet will help you learn that information better once you do encounter it. They theorize that looking for answers even though we do not know them prepares the brain to save up more information.
2. Face the confusion
Encourage your child to solve a harder math problem or read a challenging story. Let them explore complex ideas and help them understand when they feel lost. Over time, you will notice that the child has begun to enjoy these challenges.
3. Don’t protect kids from confusion
Do not try to simplify things for the child without having them attempt it at first. Parents do not have to be overprotective and try to erase all sorts of confusion right in the beginning. Create a safe space for kids so that any form of confusion is not equated to failure. Help kids see this as a learning opportunity and attempt to solve these challenges.
We rarely give children enough credit. They are far more capable and intelligent than we realize. Children do not need to be protected from confusion instead, let them ask questions, read books and seek out answers. Challenging children with the right amount of difficulty can spark curiosity and ensure they are not bored or frustrated.
“Every problem is a gift. Without them we wouldn’t grow.”