Friday, February 29, 2008

One Definition of "Teachable Moment"

(Noun) The distress created within an educator when a person, usually -- but not always -- a child under their supervision, confidently and perhaps innocently avers a soul-destroyingly false thing they have been taught by unscrupulous and/or ignorant-as-a-stump adults. This tension is often alleviated through an immediate, impolitic shout of "Who told you a thing like that?" and a subsequent lecture delivered in far more dulcet tones to eliminate the fear caused by the first shout.

Teachable moment(s) of the week:

Three separate 'tweener girls, at a book fair, upon seeing a book cover on which another young lady was depicted in a shortish, plaid skirt:
"Oh, she's gonna get raped."

Girl seeking advice about how to balance a boyfriend and schoolwork:
"Boys don't really care about us the way we do about them, so we have to worry about what they're doing all the time."

I need a drink.


kermitthefrog said...

Aaaah! (Note that your definition is precisely what happened to me when, during a class reading of Six Degrees of Separation, a student began to read a certain character in a stereotypically "gay" voice, right down to the shouting and subsequent calm apology.)

Did you actually take those moments to confront the girls? How did you do it? I wasn't sure whether the first instance was merely overheard or addressed obliquely to you.

word veri: eewokx!

HeoCwaeth said...

Hooray! I love eewokx!

I love how a certain type of man thinks that pretending to be stereotypically gay is amusing. How did you react to that?

I actually did confront two of the three tweener girls, (and those two confornted the third) because they are my students and because they are now at the age when the predators start to take notice. I couldn't allow them to go on thinking that rape is a thing that women cause. Although I think I might have left them with the "Ms. Cwaeth gets crazy when you say X" impression without much understanding as to why Ms. Cwaeth gets crazy.

I really just did the "now just a minute, what does 'rape' mean?" focused questioning thing, to make them say what was wrong with their logic. Meh, I hope I planted a seed anyway.

The girl who came seeking advice, though, I made her cry .. in the good way.

kermitthefrog said...

Aw. It's nice you're able to develop relationships with your students in an advisory capacity like that.

In my situation, I was one of two instructors in a room of 7th-9th graders, and I wasn't the one in charge. We more or less shouted the kid's name simultaneously (I led the way, but the other teacher followed more or less instantly) and told him to read in a regular voice. That was it -- I think the head instructor was as taken aback as I was. I apologized to the student privately later for shouting in class, but at that point the teachable moment had been lost. It did become a great anecdote for interviews, though, because I'm able to talk about how if I could do it differently, I would have worked through the issue in the classroom, actually asking why he thought it was necessary/funny to put the voice on. The kind of focused questions you asked seem like they would have worked well in that situation.

kermitthefrog said...

Also, I think (or hope) that if you're giving your students questions to think about, they'll keep processing them even while they're having the "teacher is crazy" reaction. Good for you for confronting them -- I get super nervous that the next time I encounter such a situation, I'll freeze and/or shout again, without adding anything intelligent!

muebles madrid en stok said...

To my mind every person have to read it.