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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Unconscious Competence

I came across this term in a professional baking magazine, and think it helps explain why some instructions are harder to follow than others. The term refers to a situation where a teacher is so familiar with a given area that he or she forgets to break instructions down into all the steps a beginner needs. For example, if I direct the reader to "use the flexible pad sander to flare the upper lip" without a picture, video, or more detailed instructions, the reader is left clueless as to how to proceed. It's like a recipe instructing you to "cook until done" without telling you how long it should take, or what it should look like.

The best instructions are written by someone who has the skills of an expert, but can still think like a beginner. As you gain more competence in a particular area, you may find that instructions that were not clear when you began now make perfect sense.


  1. To me when it said to flare it .I just looked at the picture and tried to duplicate it..Simple.

  2. Glad the picture helped. I like when I hear that projects turn out well.