The Backwards Brain Bicycle

A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the Good Habits book I had just finished reading. This week, I’d like to share a fun video I watched on the Backwards Brain Bicycle. We’ve heard the phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike” but what happens when the rules of riding the bike change? In the video, Destin, an engineer, tries riding a bike in which the handlebar moves in the opposite direction of the tire. Move the handlebar to the left and the tire goes right. Sounds easy, right? Not even a little bit! Take a few minutes right now to watch the video

The Backwards Brain Bicycle

Why share this with you? Destin says that knowledge does not equal understanding. We all have knowledge in our brains. Knowledge is everything we learn through experience or education. We then convert that knowledge into habits, such as pressing the gas pedal when we see a green light, letting the dog outside to pee when we get home, and performing a division algorithm when we see the ÷ symbol. 

However, knowledge isn’t always correct. Destin had knowledge of how to ride a bike and had developed riding habits that utilized that knowledge, but that knowledge was not the right information needed when given the backwards brain bike. He explains,  “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you cannot change it, even if you want to.” 

Part of the educational process, for both students and staff, is unlearning and relearning. When we get new information that conflicts with knowledge we have already established, we have to unlearn what we thought we knew, and then relearn with this new information added.  When it’s a major shift, like riding the backwards brain bicycle, it can create friction and disrupt habits, which in turn can cause gaps in learning because the previous knowledge is rigidly in place. Therefore, when introducing new procedures or technology tools, we need to stay mindful of the friction it may cause and provide support because it’s not always as easy as riding a bike!

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