Friday, November 13, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Yesterday in a freshman theology class, someone brought up the story of the angel Gabriel and the announcement to Mary about Jesus, and then, based on whatever I said in response to the question, there were yet more questions, about angels. A teachable moment, right? A topic in which they are genuinely interested.

When all was said and done,I had a sense that some were not satisfied. The thing is, I don't know everything there is to know about angels. And the information I supplied them with just left a couple of kids wanting more. I am pretty certain. But we moved on.

Here's the thing. Every student had in front of her a laptop connected to the collective consciousness of the world (you know, the Internet. I'll dispense with my Borg analogy for now). You get the point. Information at their fingertips. I am not the repository of all knowledge. So why did I feel I was the only one who could answer their questions? Why did we ignore those machines sitting on their desks?

There are issues that raises, like whether freshmen can find good information on the web. Oh, right, if they don't learn that here, where will they learn it?

So, I'm just brainstorming here. Provide some links to good websites? Talk about filtering all that info on the web on day 1 of the class? Every student getting the Diigo toolbar on day 1 so that they can share what they find of the things they are interested in?

Yesterday was a teachable moment. But not as much for the students as for me.


  1. After teaching a class to adults, I felt the same way! I have never been an expert, I don't claim to be, and every single adult had a laptop in front of them. Why were we still docked for not troubleshooting and having all the answers? Huge learning experience for us as well. We have to address it I guess, and be explicit when we state that we don't have all the answers, but the world and those answers are at your fingertips...

  2. I think a lot of students and teachers are still in the mindset that the teacher is handing out the information rather than facilitating the learning. I think that has been my own mindset with some exceptions, but it is changing.