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The experiment and lesson developed in this paper aim at dealing with the curse of knowledge, or the disharmony between what instructors believe they are teaching and what students are learning. This paper proposes that by adopting a beginner’s mind, instructors will be able to mitigate the disharmony. To adopt a beginner’s mind, an instructor must first recognize any priors he holds that will be important for understanding the topic that differ from the priors that students likely hold. The best way to deal with these mismatched priors is to craft an experiment that develops the priors in a straightforward way (a beginner’s mind experiment). The goal is to make the experiment itself the vessel that students learn through. Each beginner’s mind experiment and lesson are composed of 3 phases: the warm up, the work and the cool down. The first phase of the beginner’s mind experiment is the warm up while the beginner’s mind experiment is the warm up phase for the entire lesson. The key takeaway is to remember that classroom experiments are fun and the fun you have running experiments will be even more meaningful when you are convinced students are learning a lot from the experiment.


Last revised August 5, 2012.



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