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Principle of Interleaving for solving real life problems

Interleave to solve real world problems

Principle of interleaving

In its simplest form, this principle says,

"Breakup a uniform body of material into two layers and put a third layer of totally different material between the two main layers."

We call the third layer of second type of material as the filler layer and the other two as the main layers.

In this arrangement, the filler material

  • can be of varied types
  • must be suitable for using with the main layer material
  • should have contrasting properties in relation to the main layer material
  • should complement the experience of going through the main layer material
  • will carry a surprise element or special characteristics in it, and
  • must enhance the experience or properties of using the three layer product as a whole.

We find application of this simple principle all around us. Recognizing this as a special problem solving principle and identifying its scope and mechanism enable us to apply it consciously in improving new problem situations.

A tasty burger

One of the most common examples in daily life is a sandwich or a burger. We put a filler layer between two pieces of burger loaves of a burger. You can try any number of variations in this filler layer depending on your imagination and culinary creativity.

It may be a flat cake of specially prepared meat accompanied by pieces of vegetable leaves and a dash of white sauce for softening and binding effect (without the sauce the contraption may have a dry effect);  or it can be a layer of scrambled eggs accompanied by cheese slices, tomato sauce and a few rose petals (We have not tried it). As you change the filler, the taste and experience of the whole burger changes.

Double hamburger

The filler layer of a burger may seem to be the more important one lending richness of taste, but think again. Without the seemingly ordinary surrounding two layers of burger loaves, the filler itself may not be considered a specially attractive food item liked by millions of people. Alternatively, imagine that you have given a large bite on a burger with your eyes closed and to your utter surprise found the filler completely missing!

Two pieces of burger loaves alone would usually be considered as a bland and boring food item.

Both the burger loaves and the filler need each other.

Principles of Cognitive importance enhancement and abstraction

All of us are familiar with the idea of interleaving; we encounter it every day. We use coir mattress which increases the utility value of a mattress by putting layers of hard coir and soft foam one after the other (tangible). We recharge our energies by interleaving a hard week of work with a refreshing end of the week trip (intangible). We break up a monotonous day by calling a close friend. Instances of interleaving are all around us.

We use the idea of interleaving in lots of situations without explicitly acknowledging that the key idea used is in fact interleaving. By this approach, though we may go on to become an expert in making better and better burgers, we may not be able to use the idea of interleaving elsewhere in some other complex problem situation.

As soon as we become aware that we are using an idea called interleaving associated with its scope and generic mechanism, the next step is to increase its importance further by forming its abstract scope and mechanism more precisely and naming it as Principle of Interleaving. It then becomes an abstract principle and gains significant importance in your mind as a useful concept that you can use later for solving different kinds of problems.

In other words, by calling the essence of the idea as a principle you help to increase the cognitive importance of the simple taken-for-granted idea of interleaving in your mind.

When you increase cognitive importance of a useful idea, your belief in its usefulness increases and you become prepared to apply the idea later with more confidence. You add one more resource in your Problem Solving Armory (or PSA in short).

Daily life applications of Principle of Interleaving

Toughened glass

Most of us are familiar with the glass windows of cars and railway coaches that cracks when hit by a hard object, but do not break into pieces. The special property of this type of glass is achieved by pasting a thin film of special material between two sheets of glass.

Break the monotony of long hours of study

If you are going through long hours of study day after day, break the monotony and refresh your mind by playing with your favorite pet cat time to time. Not only the strain will reduce, your tired mind would also be rejuvenated.

Go out for trips every year

Year round we follow routines and our mental and physical batteries get discharged. To recharge, go out for sight-seeing or relaxing trips at least once or twice a year.

Make your lecture interesting and memorable

While delivering a long lecture inject pieces of little anecdotes and stories every now and then. This would not only keep the audience alert and interested, concepts you are attempting to convey would also be remembered better and longer as attachments to the easily remembered pieces of stories. This is story based teaching and is highly effective.

Improve quality of your sleep

Sleep is the filler between two workdays. And it is a very important filler needing care. Improving sleep quality would also improve your day performance.

You would find numerous recommendations for sleep quality enhancement. Follow advices that you find suitable and practicable, but at least take care to take a break from work or disturbing thoughts one hour before sleep. This is your filler attachment to improve filler quality. You might lie down with your favorite novel, or you may choose to play solitaire. If doing math makes you sleepy, you may very well choose to do a few math sums just before sleep. Be warned - don't take this recourse if you love math.

Make the children happy

If you are in the job of running a school, you may like to introduce a half hour story telling or similar mediated but relaxed and creative indoor session just after lunch. This should reduce the oncoming mental load of the afternoon session and make the children happy.

Interleaving is an abstract concept that you can apply in many daily life situations with suitable modifications.

Concept structure of principle of interleaving

The following shows the concept relationships between the abstract Principle of Interleaving and its various application concepts. We call this as the concept structure of principle of interleaving.

Concept structure of interleaving

Here the abstract principle of interleaving exists on its own in your mind. In making the burgers you apply the principle in a particular way and in designing the sequence of seminar sessions in another way; but still you do use the same principle of interleaving. That is why the concept of Interleaving is placed above the other concepts. It acts as a parent to its children in a concept hierarchy.

By concept structure we mean a set of concepts related together in a structured form. Here the abstract interleaving concept at the first level is suitably modified and applied in the four different areas at the second level. The first level concept is more abstract whereas the second level concepts, still interleaving concepts but a little modified for each activity area, are more specific to the activity area.

Establishing this hierarchic relationship aids understanding, memorization and use of the concepts later on.