Trapped in Dunning-Kruger

One of the essential experiences one has to make during any kind of education is the experience how much one does not understand.

I enter my film class, 10 people sitting there. The topic of my course is directing with a strong focus on the work with the actors. I have given them a text, a scene from Arthur Schnitzler`s “Call of Life”, one of my favourite two-women scenes in the most terrifying and most beautiful play by Schnitzler, this great portrayer of unconscious human drives and desires who writes complicated dialogue because the speakers don`t react to arguments but to feelings, inner hunches etc. We will rehearse the scene with two actresses. I begin by asking a simple question: “Did you understand the text?” Nodding. “Wow”, I say, “that`s amazing. No questions?” No, no questions.

Of course they didn`t understand anything. They simply had no idea how to detect things they couldn`t understand. So they had no idea how much there was to understand in such a text. This impression of knowing because essential knowledge is lacking is often referred to as Dunning-Kruger-effect. It`s a big hurdle in learning that has to be taken.