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Cognitive Flexibility Theory is a 30 year old learning theory that focuses on the question“how do experts deal with novelty?” . It's one thing to learn to to a certain thing to perfection, but how do you learn to produce new things?
4 key insights of CFT:
An ill-structured domain is a domain where there are concepts, but the way those concepts are instantiated in the real world are hugely variable, and messy as hell. Business, medicine, arts ...
Ex ... heart attacks: A heart attack is a concept. It is a thing you can study in medical textbooks. But actual diagnosis of heart attacks can be hugely variable — it depends on the patient’s race, age, gender, case history, potential complications, and so on; some heart attacks present as indigestion initially, others may last days.
In these domains the experts look more like artist than scientists.
In traditional education we are taught a concept, and then the examples that illustrate that concept are treated as disposable. In STEM fields you’ll see engineers evaluating quality of thinking with a dismissive “you’re not thinking from first principles”.
But n an ill-structured domain, then reasoning from first principles is very difficult. And that experts in ill-structured domains reason by comparison to previous cases, not by reference to first principles.
Get exposes to as many cases for each concept as is feasibly possible, so you have a large collection of fragments to assemble from. Then build bottoms up (addaptive).
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