Confusion & Understanding


A person drops out of High School because he is faced with confusion in his schooling that seems to be increasing exponentially. He feels hopeless about learning. He can’t see any benefit from continuing in school. So he drops out.

What underlie that confusion are the holes in his understanding. There may be just a few holes in Kindergarten that, if not resolved, become significant by the end of the elementary school. Then, if they are still not addressed, they multiply and become substantial by the end of the middle school. Still not handled, these holes increase exponentially during the high school years until the student starts to drown in the resulting confusion.

The student’s attention is so fixed on the debilitating confusion that the underlying holes become invisible to him. He finds that the teachers and the after school help are unable to help him with his confusion. All those lessons in the class he attends, just seem to add more to his confusion. He finds himself fighting a losing battle.

The student, and others trying to help him, focus on such holes “horizontally” at his grade level (see the graph above). But the solution does not lie in that direction. It lies in the downward direction. As you move down toward earlier education, the holes seem to merge into fewer holes. Thus, it becomes possible to trace all that confusion at the top to just a few holes at the bottom.

The cause of the massive confusion of a high school dropout is traceable to just a few holes in his early exposure to the subject.

Will it be helpful if the student can make this logical connection between the confusion at the top to the holes at the bottom? Will he experience relief? These are the questions underlying the idea of Self-Learning Clinics (SLCs).

It was found that the student was so overwhelmed by his present confusion that those holes in his early understanding were not visible to him. You could not ask the person to review the early parts of his schooling. This was not only unacceptable to him, it simply did not work.

The theory was that the cause of the confusion “at the top” could be traced to the holes “at the bottom,” but there was no way to trace it without the help of the student. The path of confusion along which to trace the holes was locked inside the person. The person could not access it. One-on-one troubleshooting worked but it took a while because it was a hit and miss affair.

Then the idea came that any subject starts with a fundamental premise. And then it develops along some logical lines. The subject of mathematics indeed had a logical structure. Mathematics starts with counting; adding is “counting together;” multiplication is “repeated addition;” subtraction is “reverse addition;” division is “reverse multiplication.”  So, when one talks about holes in understanding, one is really talking about the missing understanding of the logical structure.

Another observation made was that a high school dropout was so confused that he did not know exactly what he needed help with. He could not formulate his questions properly when he needed help. He needed some firm context within which to formulate his questions.

So, a series of lectures were designed that introduced very simply the broad purpose and scope of mathematics. They described very simply the various parts of mathematics. Then within that context the common area of trouble, which was identified as fractions, was addressed. Again, the subject of fractions was approached by defining the fractions broadly. Simple exercises were provided that focused on the logical structure of fractions.

This had an interesting effect on the students. They started to formulate questions about what was not clear to them. This was the start of a wonderful dialog that provided direction for subsequent lectures. The lectures followed the logical structure of mathematics while answering questions. From fractions, the lectures continued on division, factors, prime numbers, etc., and the interest of the students kept increasing and the questions kept coming.

So here was the solution.

The way to trace back the confusion to its cause is to generate a Q & A dialog that closely follows the logical structure of the subject.

As lectures continued on this journey of discovery the hopelessness of the students started to diminish, and they were more interested. Actually, this increasing interest was the indicator that the lectures were tracing the confusion correctly.

This research is still in progress. It is expected that when the discovery of the “hole at the bottom” is made, there would be a sudden resurgence of hope for the student that learning is possible. It would be like getting an answer that one has been waiting for a long time.

Here is what an SLC is.

An SLC aspires to turn the “hopelessness about education” into “eagerness to learn” in just a few days, or, maybe, in just a few hours.

The next step would then be to educate the person to become a SELF-LEARNER. Now that the student is eager to learn, he must know how to clean up confusion as he comes across it. A self-learner is defined as follows.

A self-learner is one who, on his own, can establish connection between his confusion and the relevant hole in his understanding. And then proceed to fill that hole by searching for and finding the right material.

The task of an SLC is not only to restore the hope that one can learn, but also to turn a high school dropout into a self-learner. For further details on the idea of SLCs, please see,

Self-Learning Clinics


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  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    As one can see, this research is still continuing. It has yet to provide a theory. There is a reasoned conjecture to understand the situation as follows.

    “The cause of the massive confusion of a high school dropout is traceable to just a few holes in his early exposure to the subject.”


    This has led to the testing the following approach.

    “The way to trace the confusions back is to generate Q & A that aligns with the logical structure of the subject.”


    The initial testing has produced promising results. There have been many comments like,

    “If you were my teacher in school I wouldn’t have dropped out.”

    A girl who had been struggling with math for months, and always looked morose, started to look very happy and eager to learn after just four troubleshooting sessions of an hour each that were conducted on one-on-one basis.

    And here a touching email from a student who was attending the “lecture approach” when she found out that there was an interruption with my research.

    “Hello. 🙂 I was very upset when I walked into Class today to find out you will not be there Anymore. 😦 I left Early, and I was filled with Sadness, For you have became an important part of my life. For the first time in my life, I was actually beginning to understand, and take math in, Because of you and the way you Teach. I am not the only one who is upset, and is going to miss you, But I understand. I will not Forget what you have taught me, Math and Spiritual, And I will use it as I continue my Journey. I just want to thank you for Everything. Your efforts did not go Unappreciated. Take Care, Your Little Conary :)”

    Jokingly I had compared this student to a canary that was taken down in mines by miners in the old times to warn them of poison gases. This student was simply lost where math was concerned and was the first one in the class whose expressions warned me that I should be more simple in my explanations.

    • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:08 AM

      Note: Action is underway to obtain formal permission to continue with the above research. I hope that will happen this week.

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    I have given much thought to how the SLC program could be exported.

    Exporting the SLC program shall depend on putting together Lesson Plans that follow the logical structure of a subject.

    The two most important subjects are Mathematics and Language Arts. Mathematics becomes very important when it is used to develop “precision thinking.” Language Art becomes very important when it is used to help one “communicate with precision.”

    I have developed a few such Lesson Plans for Mathematics that are available on the G.E.D. Self-Help page. I am continuing to develop more Lesson Plans for Mathematics.

    I hope that someone would help me by developing such Lesson Plans for Language Arts.


  • vinaire  On June 8, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    The idea of SLCs is being expanded upon here:

    Self-Learning Clinics

    There is a lot of work to be done. The accomplishment of a social objective comes first and the idea of business is there only to support this social objective.


  • vinaire  On June 11, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    I see the situation as follows:

    The students that are coming in from the street are not capable of self-learning. And I am not quite aware of the strategy that is being implemented to make them into self-learners.

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