Over-explanation and Teaching

Posted 4 years, 2 months ago | Originally written on 12 Feb 2013

There exists an explanation boundary beyond which an explanation seeks to supplant the listener's responsibility to apprehend the subject matter. It seems to me that most ideas are constructed from a finite set of thought motifs. Our reasoning capacity is designed around these motifs. Therefore, explanations should be made in awareness to these motifs and should not try to include the motifs as subjects for explanation. This is over-explanation. In the course of providing an explanation it has to be assumed that any rational individual will be able to invoke these motifs.

Thought motifs consist of primitive logical constructs such as sets, relations, functions and so on. They are usually regarded as axiomatic.

The task of the teacher is to construct the subject matter in such a way that the students will:

  • appreciate its immediate utility;
  • invoke their awareness of axiomatic knowledge;
  • be provoked to apply the techniques to solve problems; and
  • see the subject in the context of its final realisation i.e. how the subject matters to the real world.

 The teacher should not over-explain but provide knowledge in a form to be easily apprehended.