Novice and Expert

I recently read some interesting thoughts about the issue of novice-expert in the book ‘Wij zijn toch geen brein?’ (page 140) by the philosopher Alva Noë, a Dutch translation of ‘Out of Our Heads’.

Alva Noë argues that as a novice get the best results by you carefully concentrating on the technique and pay attention to yourself and what you do: posture, movements, etc. An obvious message, but a door that is often not noted.

Noë then argues that the opposite applies to the expert. When an expert concentrates on technique, the performance deteriorates. The expert has to deal with other issues such as presentation, timing etc. This may initially appear as a surprise to the layman, but we can recognize this phenomenon for example in stage fright.

And now the key question that Noë does not ask in the aforementioned book and therefore does not answer: when are you an expert and who determines that?

In my opinion, you can decide whether you are an expert yourself, if you are ready – you have to assess that correctly, when to act as an expert. That is also an interesting aspect of the profession, you are always alternating between novice and expert. And in this role play you can also become an expert again. Interesting. You will also study differently. Naturally.


Alva Noë. Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness’. New York 2009.

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