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Why 'Easy' and 'Simple' Can Be Bad  RSS feed

 
Pete Letkeman
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Years ago when I was part of the peer tutor group a teacher told the story of a recent Professional Development (PD) day with an example of why 'Easy' and 'Simple' are bad.

The story goes like this:
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A guest speaker, let's call them Tony, was invited to give a lecture to all of the teachers (a few dozen or more) in attendance.
Tony starts by first asking for a volunteer to complete an easy puzzle and Tony selects a teacher, let's call them Fred.
Tony continues to talk for a few minutes to the rest of the teachers allowing Fred to complete the task.
A few moments later Tony asks Fred if he's completed the task yet, after all the task is easy.
However, Fred has not completed the task yet, and he continues to try to solve the puzzle.

Now, Fred is feeling flustered and frustrated and he is the center of everyone's attention. Why can't Fred, a teacher, complete an easy task?
Tony talks to the rest of the teachers for a few more moments and then ask if Fred's completed the task.
Once again, Tony states that the task is easy, yet Fred seems unable to complete the task.

Finally after a few more minutes Tony asks Fred how he is feeling? Most likely Fred is feeling stupid and Fred agrees.
Fred always seemed to think he did okay in school and is now a teacher, so why can't he complete the task?
Tony then shows everyone how to complete the puzzle, it only takes a few steps and a few minutes.

What we don't know is that Tony has completed the puzzle dozens of times is not more, so it is easy for him.
Fred on the other hand had not completed this task before, thus the task was difficult for him.
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The point here is, just because you may think something is 'Easy' or 'Simple', that doesn't mean that it is for someone else.

This is why I choose not to use the words 'Easy' or 'Simple' when describing a task.

Side Note: Since I've been a member of this site (July 2017), I have not heard/read anyone say something is easy aside from when they say that a certification test was easy.
 
Liutauras Vilda
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Pete Letkeman wrote:certification test was easy

That's a myth.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:That's a myth.

I agree, however some people have still stated that.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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I think there is a reference point thing. For example, I'm pretty sure I said at some point that the Junior OCA is easy. What's implied is "easy for me" or "compared to the real OCA." I don't think it would be easy for someone brand new to Java.

I took the beta exam of the Junior OCA/Foundations exam to see if my book could be used to study for it. This answer was yes if I added a few blog posts. But I wasn't taking it to learn/get certified. I knew it was easier than the regular OCA.

That's another context where you might hear "easy" by the way. The OCP is harder than the OCA so compared to the OCP, the OCA is ______.
 
Pete Letkeman
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I do not wish to question what you may or may not have said Jeanne (or anyone else).
The point of someone saying the test is easy, was not the point of the original post.
The point of my original post was how saying easy or simple can make someone feel stupid.

That said, if you look at some of the wall of fame stories, people say that the questions are easy. The implication being that the test was easy.

I would like to reiterate, that everyone on this site has been kind, respectful, helpful and welcoming.
I do hope that no one feels like I've implied anything negative about anyone. If I did, then please know that I did not mean to.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Pete,
I get it . In fact, I had given you a cow before replying.
 
Paul Anilprem
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Long time ago I was in a class. The teacher taught some stuff and one student said, "wow, that was easy". The teacher was offended by that. He said,"It seems easy now because I taught it to you". It was like he wasn't credited enough

 
Paul Anilprem
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Pete Letkeman wrote:The point here is, just because you may think something is 'Easy' or 'Simple', that doesn't mean that it is for someone else.

This is why I choose not to use the words 'Easy' or 'Simple' when describing a task.



These terms are also used when something ought to be easy or simple for someone in a particular role. For example,  writing a hello world program should be easy for a univ student. Dumping some data to a file should easy for an entry level programmer. This is probably the most basic time estimation method. The OCAJP exam should be easy for say a Java programmer with a couple of years of experience.

May be in your teacher story, the rating of the puzzle was done for a competent teacher.  If the particular teacher found it to tough, may be that teacher didn't belong there. Just another perspective.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Paul, I agree that some tasks should be considered easier then other tasks for instance the OCA 1Z0-808 exam should be considered easier then the OCP 1Z0-809 exam.

Paul Anilprem wrote:If the particular teacher found it to tough, may be that teacher didn't belong there. Just another perspective.

Great point, and this is definitely a valid perspective.
I'm sure that in everyone's past they've had a teacher whom they though should not have been teaching the subject matter or should not be a teacher at all.
 
Liutauras Vilda
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Pete Letkeman wrote:I'm sure that in everyone's past they've had a teacher whom they though should not have been teaching the subject matter or should not be a teacher at all.

Partially it could be, because student's and teacher's personalities don't match. For instance, some of my course mates found teacher X to be an awful and bad at teaching, while myself found him one of the best among others we have had. And other way round.

I think to define the competence of the teacher isn't up to the student. Student (in most cases) knows very littler comparing to teacher, so how one could estimate the competence? I'd say only by feelings, but that is inaccurate estimation.

We even hear here a lot: "my teacher/professor is awful, because he gave me that exercise/didn't explain well...". But it also could be a part of the bigger picture, for instance where not necessarily teacher can influence a lot the material he needs go through.

Pete Letkeman wrote:for instance the OCA 1Z0-808 exam should be considered easier then the OCP 1Z0-809 exam.

I think that could be a most accurate estimation by doing some comparison of related things, but even then someone could find easier to jump from trampoline of 30 m of height, than 5 m.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:Partially it could be, because student's and teacher's personalities don't match. For instance, some of my course mates found teacher X to be an awful and bad at teaching, while myself found him one of the best among others we have had. And other way round.

Yes, personalities mismatches can be the cause of conflicts between not only teachers and students, but coworkers and management. Which can lead to missed opportunities. I have had this experience as well with some teachers.

Liutauras Vilda wrote:I think to define the competence of the teacher isn't up to the student. Student (in most cases) knows very littler comparing to teacher,

Correct, however I remember being a teenager and thinking I knew it all (some times), or at least more then a teacher did. I'm sure that most teenagers feel or think that they know more then the adults.
Sometimes it's only when we get older that we appreciate a teacher or person and their knowledge or teaching style.

Liutauras Vilda wrote:I think that could be a most accurate estimation by doing some comparison of related things,

Especially when there is a related progression such as walking and running or jumping three feel long and jumping five feet long.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:. . . some of my course mates found teacher X to be an awful and bad at teaching, while myself found him one of the best among others we have had. And other way round. . . .
The same happens on this forum; I can explain something to the best of my ability and the OP doesn't understand a w‍ord of it, and somebody else writes four lines and is understood first time.
 
Randall Twede
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That's OK Campbell, we love you anyway.
 
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