Critical mass in Education


I came across in an article by Barry Mazur, this excellent quote:

He tells me that at one point in his career studying
European History, he experienced an abrupt phase shift. Once you’ve achieved—says my friend—a
certain critical mass of historical information, all of a sudden your view of the entire subject changes.
First, your power of simply retaining information increases multifold; but more importantly, your
way of thinking about the subject bears no relation to the way you approached things initially. My
friend accounted for this surprising moment as a consequence of accumulation, perhaps to overload,
of somehow-connected specifics that forced him to involuntarily re-configure—in a more meaningful
way— his modes of organization, and contemplation, of the entirety of this corpus of knowledge.

I think this phase shift is correct, there are times in my education when a discipline suddenly makes infinitely more sense. Its hard before this point to really understand what an expert is talking about, and general ideas can’t replace technical fluency.