Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Learning curves (and clicks)

I'm the expert, right? I'm the one who has spent, literally, years researching the topic, reading all the foundational texts and tracing tangential ideas through footnotes, endnotes, and endless references. I'm the one who wrote the conference paper and presented it at the conference and discussed the topic with experts and who is now working on revising the paper for publication, and I'm the one who did yet more research to feed the demands of a grant application to fund future research on the topic. I'm the one who designed the course, assembled the syllabus, ordered the readings, developed the writing assignments, and established the basis for class discussions. I think we can agree than no one in the room knows more than I do or has thought more than I have about the topic of today's discussion.

And yet all it takes is one line in a short student paper, one small comment, to make me see something I'd never before considered. I wonder whether the students can hear the little click of two ideas suddenly fitting together very neatly in my head, like puzzle pieces that complete the picture. Yes: I, the acknowledged expert, just learned something important from my students.

This is what it means to be part of a community of scholars. And this is why I love teaching the senior capstone.

(Do you hear the click? It's kind of contagious.)

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