Sunday, June 16, 2013

"You Don't Understand"

Isn't it clear?! (picture via WikiMedia)
Standing in front of the lecture hall, I heard the discussion and the question that made it quite clear that the student simply did not understand the concept.

How many variations would I try? To what lengths would I go to have this student grasp the concept? How much time would I take from other students and from my own work to see this through? Would it be because of my own dedication to teaching? Would it because I was being evaluated as an instructor through the class' grades and teacher evaluations? Or maybe there's simply a latent desire in everyone to be understood?

Regardless, as a teacher standing before the students, a parent directing your child, a subject matter expert explaining the need for a particular course of action, you have knowledge and experience to convey that the others may not be prepared to accept or to understand. Reputation is on the line! When your unstoppable force encounters that immovable object, what happens? Do we blame the student, saying that the student is a fool or even that the student is purposefully resisting the lesson? Do we not blame a particular student, but instead rationalize that not everyone will get it and this is just one of those someones? Do we begin to doubt the material itself, wondering if it might not be valid at all if no one will accept it? Do we begin to doubt ourselves, questioning our reasoning or even our ability as teachers?

What are the consequences of one course of action over another? And while we're wondering what to do, what is not getting done?

There's lots of fertile ground here for exploration in future posts. Do you have examples from your own experience to share?

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