Blogging as Multi-Track

From @brackenm:



The core idea of Choral Explanations is that we benefit more from multiple parallel explanations than the “one best explanation”, and that educational materials should utilize this pattern more fully. As I’ve argued, choral explanations are how people tend to reach mastery of difficult areas, whether they are a programmer on Stack Exchange or a sommelier trying to find another route into recognizing wines.

Bracken reminds me that chorus need not be composed of different voices, necessarily. One of the patterns of blogging is to repeatedly explain the same concepts in different ways through different examples. And one of the joys of reading blogs is suddenly one day a post just clicks, and you get the idea someone has been trying to explain forever, and you get it in a deep an profound way.

It’s tempting to think, after you read that blog post that helps you get it, “Well, if only you had explained it this way before! It’s so much simpler than you’ve been making it!”

But that’s a wrong reaction for two reasons. First, it’s the case that that explanation worked for you, but that others have worked for other people. This is my point about personalization: since we all come into learning contexts with vastly different backgrounds and interests the most important personalization provides different routes into the same concepts.

But the other reason it’s wrong is your understanding of that article that “clicked” is likely path-dependent: had you read that article without reading the others, you probably wouldn’t have gotten it. To overextend the metaphor, this is because we teach our students notes, but expect them to understand chords, and it’s often only by the interaction of multiple examples and explanations that the underlying structure of the idea becomes evident.


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