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Private Universe

I was teaching tonight. I showed my students, who are training to be science teachers a movie about student’s misconceptions. The premise of this fascinating film is that all of us form private theories about nearly everything (based on our experiences) and often those private theories are full of misconceptions and misinformation.  As a teacher, it is our job first to uncover this misconceptions and then help the students discover for themselves the truth.

It seems to me the classroom problem is in fact,  not just a dilemma for teachers, but for all of us who struggle to conduct our lives and businesses in a  meaningful  way.  I often think I am communicating clearly to my friends or my family, my clients and employers.  I see the world one way and I am sure that my perceptions are shared by these other people.  But they don’t agree, in fact, I am not even sure they hear me.  The techniques I use in a classroom to remedy this situation don’t often translate to the outside world.  Here is how it might look:

Teaching Scenario 1: Jewelry Business

Show them the necklace. Ask them the following question.  “What do you think this necklace is worth?”

They might answer, “I could buy on ebay for $25.00”

Follow up with a question to challenge their private theory.  “What if i told you I spent four hours making it and the cost of my materials were $10.00. Do you think I should charge only $25.00?” Let them feel the necklace.  Show them the technique used for making it.

Allow them to try making it to see how difficult the technique really is?

Teaching Scenario 2:  The value of eating healthy and practicing preventative medicine

I have been preaching healthy eating to my children ever since they were old enough to eat solid food. Two of my three kids get it.  In fact, my youngest son completely gave up all sodas, limits his snacks to one a day and reaches for bananas, peanut butter, carrots and yogurt when he is hungry and my husband and I are not available to cook. My middle son, on the other hand, flat out rejects all my preaching and teaching.  He has to learn everything through personal experience.  His private universe has recently intersected with his little brothers and mine in fact.  In the past two years, I have lost a great deal of weight and in general have been experiencing very good health.  In the meantime, his 13 year old brother is getting far more buff than he is.  I have watched my son start investigating healthier eating habits.

Tonight the teaching went like this?

Mom, I have got a really bad cold?  What can I do?

I start rubbing the bridge of my nose.  He gets on the internet and researches head colds and it shows a person rubbing the bridge of their nose.  He starts rubbing his.  Then he looks at me and says” You do that all the time.  I just thought you were crazy.  By the way Mom, can I borrow your Neti pot as well. ”

You get the picture.  Teaching and learning take time.  Human interactions are very complex and fraught with dangers. Do any of us take the time to interact in this fashion with our friends, partners, business associates? My friends and family think I am too pedantic as it is.  They will never let me get away with this behavior.  They will roll their eyes in their head as they hold on tight to their private theories on jewelry, health and life.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your blog Andrea! Very cool. The piece of jewelry is really special as well. Did you sell it? How much LOL? As for the forming of our personal theories, I suppose when you speak of “experiences” you are including our communicative experiences, such as television, friends, parents, etc., right?

  2. Hi Andrea – This is a wonderful post. I’ve been hopping around the Bead Soup participants blogs to say “Hello” and see what everyone’s been up to. Great blog.

  3. Interesting blog! I really liked your comment Lori!

  4. This reminds me of the medical ethics class I took in college — we’d watch this film about someone who was horribly, horribly burned who wanted to be allowed to die. The teacher stopped the film and asked us what we would do. Almost everyone agreed they’d let him go home so he would get an infection and die.

    Then the teacher put the film back on. The man ended up not only getting married, but getting a law degree (interestingly, to help people fight for their right to die in those situations). Our perceptions about quality of life were totally shaken that day.

    As for jewelry — ask them how they would feel if you walked into their office one day and said, oh hey, I’m going to pay you less for this work you’re doing because I can get it cheaper elsewhere. Would that be ok with them? Makes them think.

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