Think about the nuclear physicist who ends up pursuing a career in computer science. Or, the kid who is good at biology and chemistry, who ends up becoming a doctor. There is a core concept at play that transfers from one subject to another. This phenomenon is known, in educational circles, as concept transfer. 

Enabling identification of central themes

There is a central theme that connects biology, chemistry and medicine. Similarly, there is a central theme that connects math, physics and computational sciences. There is also a central theme that connects music and literature. These central themes require identification in order to promote transfer from one subject to another. The way to build the that skill of concept identification is to show many different examples for a particular topic. The more different each example is, the better, and, of course, the examples should go from simple to complex. If they are too complex at the start, it will only cause confusion. 

Encouraging analogies

People often say that a person can be compared to a seed. As the seed is nurtured, it grows into a strong and productive tree/plant. Similarly, as the human child is nurtured, he/she grows into a strong and productive man/woman. Thus, a seed and a human child are analogous concepts. Tests and exams usually only ask about the concept. But, in order to really build transfer skills, they must also ask for concept analogies. Upon receiving feedback on the analogy, the student will learn things about the concept that they would not have if they hadn’t even bothered to come up with an analogy.  

Overcoming emotional blocks

There are several emotional blocks that prevent a student from participating wholeheartedly in the effort to master a concept. They are:

  1. Fear of risks
  2. Self image concerns
  3. Anxiety/stress escape

The reasons for the above emotional blocks are different for each learner. They must be discovered and managed so as to stop the learner from holding back in a public classroom environment. 

Developing spontaneous thinking

We are all guilty of retreating to our rooms, switching off the phone and closing all doors and windows before finally deciding to concentrate on something. Basically, what we’re doing here is retreating into a comfort zone in order to think. Many of us cannot think as and when a problem presents itself. That’s because we are so used to going back into our dens before finally concentrating on the issue. This is a problem that plagues education. Teachers and parents must work together to encourage thinking “right then and there.” If there is a possibility of being made fun of, teachers must manage the situation, for example, by also making fun of someone else for something else, to show that making fun is just light humor and shouldn’t be taken as a signal to stop trying. 

In the end, transfer skills are fundamental and critical to good education. Therefore, they must be a prime consideration in all cirriculums if one hopes to improve the quality of education.