The curse of knowledge

Greg Salmela
1 min readDec 27, 2020

A friend who taught design at community college once invited me to teach a class. Having an interest in education, I took him up on the offer.

That day, I may have learned more from the experience than my students. Ever since, I have appreciated the distinction between having knowledge and imparting knowledge.

Being a newbie teacher, I was finding it difficult to reach my students. I assumed being an expert was sufficient, but in truth, I was failing to provide students enough useful context for my knowledge.

In pedagogical circles, there is a term for this — the curse of knowledge. It is a phenomenon where increased subject-matter knowledge impairs one’s ability to predict the knowledge in others.

This is equally relevant in the practice of communications. As communicators, we also need to mitigate the curse of knowledge — and it starts by placing people at the centre, not content.

I founded Aegis, a relational design firm. Aegis helps create emotionally-intelligent brands and organisations.

Greg Salmela

Hanging with human-centred thinkers, researchers and designers.