Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's Wrong with Expert Advice?

The latest Discover Magazine (June 2009) has an interesting little snippet on pg 16, under their Good News/Bad News column. Under The Bad News:

Expert advice inhibited parts of the brain [emphasis theirs] important for decision-making in a financial game as participants shifted responsibility to the expert, a brain imaging study by economists and psychiatrists found at Emory University found.

This has interesting real-world implications in so many parts of our daily lives, including the education of our children. You stop thinking so much for yourself when you know there's an "expert" around to tell you what to do.

And in dealing with our own children, if we don't act as the "expert," but rather assistants in their learning and discovering, it seems they would participate more and make their own thoughtful decisions. Am I reaching here? I don't think so. What do you think?

If you keep tying your child's shoes, when he obviously is trying to do it himself, you take over, you're the expert, and he'll stop thinking about it. And he'll just give up when he sees you, knowing you can do it better, and faster, and more "expertly." There are so many. If your child isn't ready to make the attempt, or shows no interest, that's a different story, of course. Just an example.

But it seems as though this Emory University study would apply just about everywhere. So if you want to master a subject, skill, hobby, or even a game, don't go to the experts! Sure, they're great for getting you started, for helping you along a bit, but when it comes down to it, you'll probably do a lot better in the long run if you try to figure things out for yourself.

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