The Boston Globe published an interesting article today on “cognitive fluency.” It’s described like this:
Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard.
Surprise, surprise, right? What I find intriguing about the article, though, is that it shares more in detail about how and why we work that way (be forewarned, though, the article — at least to me — appears to go all over the place).
I was struck by a quote from a psychologist named Robert Zajonc who explained why were like this in terms of evolution: ‘If it is familiar, it has not eaten you yet.’
One of many ways this seems to me to tie into education is the importance of activating student background knowledge. I spend a chapter in my book on teaching English Language Learners about doing this through eliciting student stories and applying them to new language and academic content. Another piece that I read today titled “Your Brain On Stories” highlights why our brain might particularly like learning in the context of stories.