The Art of Unteaching w/ MeanHVAC

This podcast episode is Alex Meaney's 2023 HVACR Training Symposium session: “The Art of Unteaching.”

We may have flawed understandings of HVAC concepts, including the understanding that “heat rises.” Our world is constantly shaped by the things we see and believe, and we are hard-wired to defend our observations and beliefs if we feel that those are threatened by new information. Instructors need to be sneaky about “unteaching” flawed ways of understanding the scientific principles of HVAC.

When we communicate concepts to others, we need to watch our language and make sure our messages are clear; the subtext is as important, if not more important, than the actual material. Humility also goes a long way when teaching, though teachers need to be especially careful of imposter syndrome.

Teachers can be most effective when they find a point of common ground between what their students already know and what they want to teach their students; avoiding jargon is a good way to make sure everyone can start on the same page before you teach them the vocabulary. When teaching, think about filling in the gaps without students realizing that those gaps have been filled; some teaching techniques, like inversion, can help with this process. Group settings also make it easier for students to process new information.

Alex also covers:

  • Pitfalls of the 12,000-BTU rule
  • Bridge vs. bedrock foundation
  • Pedantism and cognitive dissonance
  • Repeating and rephrasing answers
  • The “forgot to know it” approach
  • Humility and the “reset button”
  • Fallacies and heuristics
  • Being able to understand when you're wrong


Check out Alex's design consultation work at

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