Yesterday, I saw
shared on Reddit’s programming subreddit.
I can’t due justice to the article, so I won’t even try
to summarize it. (Definitely read it before reading on here.)
However, I think it’s worth sharing
because it highlights one of the most fundamental things that we take for
granted when trying to teach friends or family something
(not all of us are trained teachers).
Not every new concept is actually so complex and layered that it can’t
be easily intuited by someone with basic knowledge.
Often, we simply don’t go about motivating the understanding properly.
In the article, the children may not have necessarily had any connection
to binary, but they knew how to count, and how we use fingers.
By conceptually “backing up” from the arithmetic base to the reason
why that base is used (without using such advanced terminology),
even children are able to piece out the concept of a different arithmetic
base, and to extend their understanding of the arithmetic they know in
one base to other bases. It was simply a matter of relating the concept
to its roots, and building up from there, rather than starting at the
top and trying to drill down. I sincerely believe that if we follow this model
in our day to day lives, of simply starting with “why” and then proceeding to
“how”, we can make our communication of ideas, both big and small, much easier.