Being super prepared

Back in school, I had a classmate who put an unbelievable amount of work in preparing for exams, reading mountains of books. I remember one exam in social sciences for which he had read no fewer than 10 textbooks on the subject. We were blown away by what he knew. To us, it felt like there was nothing he didn’t know about the subject.

And still … The grade he got on this exam? An “E”! Failed!

Because he had missed the point.

I can still see his consternation when the teacher calmly explained to him why simply writing down everything he knew about a topic was not an appropriate way of dealing with the assigned task.

My classmate had failed to
– read the assignment carefully,
– filter out the relevant information from all the knowledge he had accumulated,
– apply it to the specific question,
– and write it down in a comprehensible way.

Sure, somewhere deep down in his explanations the correct answer was certainly hidden, but it wasn’t the teacher’s job to go looking for it. It was the student’s job to make obvious that he could apply general knowledge in a specific context.

Similarly, it’s not the task of our audience to go looking for the point in our communication. It’s the other way around. It’s our most important task to present our accumulated knowledge so that people see the point and get it.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz

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