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When do we truly understand?

 
 
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 03:22 pm
I ask this because I remembered that on many occasions when a student is trying to help his mate out, but then the student realizes that he can't explain it correctly and then he excuses himself saying something like:

"I do understand, but I can't explain it"

Is that possible?

There might be some barriers with the way that person manages his/her ideas. But I still lean towards no, if one truly does understand something, then he/she is able to explain it to others in a simple way.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 03:28 pm
You are correct, but the question itself "I do understand, but I can't explain it" can be taken in two different ways by the recipient: 1. A shutdown to further conversation or 2. An expression of a pause to collect ones thoughts before spewing out nonsense. Some people's thought processes work slower than others. I commend the student who takes pause to ask questions.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 04:00 pm
Often there are times when I understand something completely, but cannot explain it properly to another person. Sometimes I have a generalized conception of something, but do not have enough in-depth information to explain it to another person.
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gustavratzenhofer
 
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Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 04:14 pm
I'll have to agree with Phoenix. Let's use politics for an example. A person might read hundreds of magazines and newspapers, watch tv, listen to the radio and ultimately come up with a pretty clear picture of a particular politcal figure. But yet, when asked to express their opinion on that same figure, they'll have images in their mind of all the lies and deceit, all the broken promises and misrepresentation, and they try to express these things verbally and come up with something like "Bush sucks"

It's not that they don't have the information in their minds, it's an inability to transfer it verbally.

There's something there -- some sort of brain-to-tongue mechanism -- that works great in some and has atrophied in others.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 06:21 pm
I had no idea Bush was gay, or even bi-curious.
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Not Too Swift
 
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Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 06:47 pm
Not "everything" that's understood can be explained in simple or any other terms. That's especially true of personal insights. Words cannot always adequately blueprint a thought because thoughts can be more easily arrived at than the words required to reflect it. Not everyone is Shakespeare (and even he would have had some problems). Many people are in fact semi-illiterate; they're usually the ones who "hide it" in the form of "poetry". Also, if words are our only "rational" means of conveying information then a majority of thoughts simply don't qualify.
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 06:51 pm
Even bad poetry can be a window to the mind, and a reference point for communicating an idea, emotion or thought.
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john-nyc
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 06:57 pm
Re: When do we truly understand?
JoeFX wrote:
I ask this because I remembered that on many occasions when a student is trying to help his mate out, but then the student realizes that he can't explain it correctly and then he excuses himself saying something like:

"I do understand, but I can't explain it"
Is that possible?

There might be some barriers with the way that person manages his/her ideas. But I still lean towards no, if one truly does understand something, then he/she is able to explain it to others in a simple way.


I think what you're seeing is the difference between "understanding" something well enough to pass a multiple choice exam and "explaining" it in an essay.
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Not Too Swift
 
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Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 07:29 pm
Quote:
Even bad poetry can be a window to the mind, and a reference point for communicating an idea, emotion or thought.


That may be true; nevertheless, while there are no words, in whatever order, that can truly convey the full rendering of a thought or idea, there are various degrees of alliance that can decrease the distortion. A mutilated drawing is not a portrait!
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 07:40 pm
Not Too Swift wrote:
Quote:
Even bad poetry can be a window to the mind, and a reference point for communicating an idea, emotion or thought.


That may be true; nevertheless, while there are no words, in whatever order, that can truly convey the full rendering of a thought or idea, there are various degrees of alliance that can decrease the distortion. A mutilated drawing is not a portrait!


A good teacher however, can guide a student through this problem. Perhaps you should elaborate on your post, especially regarding 'various degress of alliance that can decrease the distortion' and 'a mutilated drawing is not a portrait.' These are potent thoughts, please expand.
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Not Too Swift
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 10:03 pm
Cavfancier

Thank you! But the idea is fairly straight forward.

Consider:

You have a thought in whatever plane of complexity it orbits. In your mind it feels complete with no relevance to actual merit. You must now rebuild the thought, which to you equals instantaneous (wordless) recognition, to someone else using the best available means - the language you and the recipient are most familiar with. He receives it in "picture puzzle" format with the pieces contoured by your ability to express and his ability to reorder according to "your" intent. You are "painting" your thoughts on someone else's canvas in short. Obviously, there must be some deviation in the exchange. If it were possible to "mind-meld", a single thought could be multiplexed without deformity in both sender and receiver instantly, it's translation and images already inherent even though its "interpretration" would likely remain a separate function.
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coachryan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Sep, 2004 11:13 pm
just a question for clarification.

So your more interested in discussing when the "teacher" in this model understands a particular subject, than how he translates it to the "student"?
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Pantalones
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Sep, 2004 03:48 am
coachryan wrote:
just a question for clarification.

So your more interested in discussing when the "teacher" in this model understands a particular subject, than how he translates it to the "student"?
I used that as an example, I am interested in all means... and basically is

If I understand I should be able to explain it

Vs.

If I understand, I might not be able to explain it.

With me leaning towards the first one... although gustav, phoenix, john and nts have made good points
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