Tuesday, November 17, 2009
A VERY OLD STUDENT
Every so often, the thought comes to mind that my teenage students know more than I do. Of course, being about four times older than they are, I’m more knowledgeable in certain areas (thought not by much, I sometimes fear), but in other areas, they are the professors and I’m the humble pupil. Today, for instance, I was supposedly leading the children in a discussion of how to use an online research tool. Fairly quickly, however, I began to have the feeling all of us educators occasionally have, that the canoe of my teaching was rapidly moving into wild waters. I realized, to put it more simply, that I had very little idea what I was talking about. I realized that not only couldn’t I answer the students’ questions about the technology at hand, but I didn’t even understand their questions. Quickly, though, some handy honesty came to my rescue. I simply asked the students, “Can anyone help me figure out how this works?” Quickly a girl threw out a lifeline: “Sure, Mr. Salsich. First you do this …. and then you do this ...” and she proceeded to lead the class (and me) through a speedy lesson on how to make this digital tool useful. As I watched and listened, I noticed that many of the other students joined her in demonstrating its usefulness, and soon I began to feel like I was the only student in a roomful of teachers. I’m not quite sure why, but I felt lucky. I sat back in the chair, relaxed, and took pleasure in the experience – a grandfather being taught by a class of accommodating and erudite teenagers.