Anything that generates cognitive dissonance (this, for example) can be horizon expanding, because it is disruptive and gives an opportunity to think outside of our normal frameworks of understanding.
Because it turns out that we do many things on autopilot…because there is just so much to do from moment to moment…our brains are very good at extrapolating and feeding off of previous experiences; we don’t think about everything all the time. This is probably the cause of ‘silly mistakes’, such as getting simple sums wrong, or leaving out short words (mostly prepositions in my experience) in pieces of writing; our brain is on autopilot and doesn’t focus on all of the detail. This probably explains cognitive bias, and various other such things, as well. Our inner life doesn’t want to re-think everything all the time – too time consuming. The cognitive dissonance is like a tear in the normal fabric of space-time; a dislocation that gives access to an alternate universe. An opportunity to leap forward in learning, or to leap into another framework of understanding; to see things differently.
Framework of Understanding. My feeling is that we all have a large number of nested Frameworks of Understanding, that form the basis for our everyday actions and thoughts. These give us a basis for proceeding in everyday life. They include a mental map of the physical world around us (try taking a mental journey from your bedroom to your work place…it’s remarkably easy), that allows us to rush out into our familiar surroundings without paying too much notice to the detail…(driving on autopilot; at work already?). They also include a framework for understanding the people we normally deal with; family members, work colleagues…we learn how they behave, what they mean by that look or gesture, how we can communicate with them. This is one of the reasons that meeting new people can be so exhausting…we don’t have the framework for understanding them, and have to construct it in real time.
Of course, the place where we continually come across new things is in school. Each student brings their own collection of frameworks of understanding with them into the class. They will automatically add the new material to the framework that seems most appropriate. This is why it is useful to start a new area of learning with something that is likely to generate cognitive dissonance in the students. This then shakes the student out of autopilot and causes them to focus on the detail, and perhaps construct a new framework into which subsequent knowledge and related information (such as the next lesson in the series) will be incorporated. A leap forward in learning (?).