ACH Thinking and Learning

Major progress in gaining knowledge is always achieved by discovering new abstract ideas (A) and concepts (C) through hypothesis testing (H). Accumulating knowledge on its own does not lead to new ideas because it is almost impossible to recognise novel concepts by simply sifting through the data; people seem reluctant to embrace new ideas for several reasons. They may not be used to thinking because their native ideas do not lend themselves to experimentation and they become discouraged with toying around with ideas. They find new ideas difficult to learn and cannot imagine what use they might be. Or they might simply equate "abstract" with "impractical".

On the other hand, there are ideas which appear to be simple, but their simplicity is deceptive because they lead to the prevention of thinking and also prevent us from learning more than random facts. We therefore have to keep an open mind at all times and realise when a particular concept leads to a dead end, rather than to new ideas.

No one wants to look stupid, but it is the easiest thing in the world to do, especially when we are complacent about thinking and take what appears to be an easy way out. It is necessary to keep asking questions about the world to find out how it works, and these questions should be:

  1. formulated so that they can be answered;
  2. directed at finding out specific, relevant information;
  3. aimed at exposing the concepts behind superficial phenomena; and
  4. set in a problem-based context: What use is our treatment of a topic?
(Adapted from White, 2001)

"Behind medicine there are general bio-cultural ideas about impairments in health and wellbeing which, being learned first, make the rest easier to fit in and to recall."
Earle Hackett. (ABC, 2010)


Lee Traynor, 08.11.10, Hannover.