Learning: The Confusion vs. Time curve

The stages of learning are as follows:
  1. Ignorance: You don't know anything about the subject.
  2. Regular effort: Most of the time is spent on this.
  3. Great Confusion: The most difficult time when increased effort only brings about more confusion.
  4. Eureka!: Could be a single moment, or several.
  5. Insight: When things begin to fall in place.
  6. Mastery: Everything looks simple again.
None of the stages can be skipped, though their relative lengths might vary. Its important to know which stage one is at, and keeping the entire process in mind helps when things get tough.

Here's the entire process graphically. As always, click to enlarge.

An interesting thing to note is that simplicity (the isn't-it-obvious stage) has two forms:
  1. Ignorance: Everything seems simple on a first look. This can quite often be very deceptive and an impediment to learning.
  2. Mastery: Once you acquire insights on any topic and things fit nicely together, you've reached simplicity on the other side of confusion. This should be the goal of the learning process.

P.S: And if you think this post is simple, then think about where you're at.. :)


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