Regardless of one's age or years completed in school, I think we learn best when we are assisted with the unknown. This doesn't mean you can't struggle a little to solve a problem, but not so much so that you are no longer interested in the answer.
Lev Vygotsky defined the space of what we can achieve independently, and what we can achieve through the support of someone who knows more, as the Zone of Proximal Development.
This is not rarified space. It is a deeply personal space that exists in all of us. It is a space of learning within a social context that is rich with conversation and thinking skills.
Earlier this week, Anesthesiology residents at a local medical center discussed a case vignette in small groups. Later, after completing directed reading, group-based discussions, and written practice questions, the residents began to design their own multiple choice questions. It was rewarding to listen as these doctors came up with new ways of questioning their fund of knowledge while pushing themselves to clarify and understand more than when they started the day. Within these small groups residents were able to explore what they knew and get support for what they needed to learn. This process gave them another context in which to prepare for exams.
Think about your earliest learning experiences. Most of us didn't learn to tie our shoes without someone sitting beside us, and showing us how. It's kind of the same thing with anesthesiologists and other doctors.
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