Many students learn when studying chemistry that acetone, the chemical in fingernail polish remover, dissolves glue. But when faced with a glue spill in their basement at home, few students can access this knowledge to help them with their problem. The way students mentally index what they learn in school often does not pertain to the issues they face in life. If a student spilled glue in the chemistry lab and his teacher suggested that he use acetone to clean it up and explained why, the student would likely exclaim, "Yes, I already knew that!" And, in some academic sense, that is true. But in a real-world sense, not having knowledge properly indexed is about as valuable as not having it at all.
Such knowledge is called "inert." Inert knowledge is simply knowledge that is improperly indexed. Unfortunately, the only way to create more flexible indexing is to ask questions and pursue them. The sort of memorization which comprises most studying (and most schoolwork) rarely involves such question asking. Hence, most of this work leads to inert knowledge.
Succeeding in School Today
Where am I in the content of the book?