Monday, March 2, 2009

Incompetence, again

From another wonderful article, these quotes jump out:

  • ...most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.
  • The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "he who knows best knows how little he knows."
  • ...the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.
  • the most able subjects .... were likely to underestimate their own competence.
Wow. Like the author, it makes one wonder if we are one of the incompetents. Thinking about students and how they react to their performance on academic tests, drivers license test, and other skills, I have always thought it was more like ego. But maybe it is what the authors address in the article. They generally argue what was wrong with the test, the material, the situation...

I think we have all had a time where we thought we were good at something. Does that necessarily mean we are incompetent? I don't think so. Once we are aware, we seek information for learning. I think some people are aware of their shortcomings and undervalue their competence. Is this really an all or none idea? Do we either fit into one end (incompetent) of the spectrum or the other (competent)? Is is possible to slide along this spectrum but rest mostly in one end?

Picture credit: flickr user sheeshoo


  1. Interesting ideas here. I wonder how the researchers would explain flow; that feeling that everything is in synch and moving along as well or better than you'd hoped. I don't experience it often enough in the classroom, but when I do it's a feeling that can't be beat :-)

  2. I think we are not incompetent when we are in flow. But afterward are there times when you think that it could have been better or I should have done that? Many don't think that.

  3. The reflection piece that you are talking about is definitely important. Why did things work well? What can be improved? These questions need to be asked flow or no :-)