We all have one problem in common. When we are not good at something, we lack the very competence to assess this lack of competence, that means we have no way of telling that we're not good at it.
A common occurrence in our courses are students who have joined the course in order to be certified for something they believe they have already mastered. This mindset is very commonly based on the above mentioned Dunning Kruger Effect.
An example for this are SCUBA diving instructors who - mistakenly - transpose their often very high level of expertise in one form of diving onto another - unbeknownst to them very different - form of diving.
The logic is compelling that an underwater professional should be well-versed in a seemingly related field. - It just isn't so in the vast majority of cases. This not only makes it harder for those affected to learn from a course, it also makes it much harder for a lot of people to understand that a beginner's freediving course would be very beneficial for them. - If you are wondering, take a look at what one can learn in a beginners freediving course.
This also bolsters nicely the host of reasons why you always, always, always need a qualified buddy when freediving.
John Cleese - Psychologist by Education - Explains
John Cleese is an outstanding person anyway - given his sheer height - and he helps us understand this effect like this:
On the Value of Privacy and Empathy
The realisation that one's own skill assessment is far away from one's actual skill level is not a pleasant one. - Unless, of course, we find this out in trusted company that understands our situation and we know that our partners in learning - most importantly our instructor - see this step as a success instead of a threat to our self-esteem.
The Socratic Method allows the student to make this discovery themselves and it is important to note that the answers we derive from Socratic questioning are useful mainly for the student, not so much for the instructor - I usually have a good idea of a student's competence once I've talked to them and seen them in the water. Thus it can be very productive to ask these questions and explicitly tell the student that you do not need to hear their reply, but it is important for them to understand their own answers. To support this process, lesson breaks after Socratic questioning can give the student the time and the privacy to come to terms with their new understanding.
How can we then help someone increase their level of understanding if they believe that it is already very high?
David Dunning wrote an entertaining and enlightening article on the topic published on psmag and here is a good interview with Mr. Dunning himself that prompts some introspection: