Think back to the first time you realized someone else understood a topic before you did. Depending on how your request for a bit more clarification was handled most likely set your path about asking questions. If the teacher reworded the knowledge so the rest of the class “got it,” a message was sent along with the lesson stating that it was important for you to understand. The teacher was willing to state it differently because it mattered.
On the other hand, if you were told to see the teacher after class if you still didn’t understand by then, you also received a message that understanding wasn’t relevant at the time. Most likely you never went back for the answers, either.
As school years passed, you noticed you were better at some subjects than your friends, and that they were more knowledgeable in others. Small groups started meeting to help each other out, but slowly friends drifted away to others with like interests and understanding. Suddenly the fountain of knowledge dried up, and once again, hands were in the air. Students were interested in learning and understanding, but were told to look at their friends’ notes for answers.
Why an instructor would believe one short lesson should answer every question and cover any area is perplexing. I discussed it with some other educators and got a variety of answers. There were three possible answers by the time people ran out of interest. Thank goodness I didn’t know any of these people, because I like to ask questions. One woman suggested that it could be discussed more next time we meet. I am not sure, but I think she meant if I didn’t get it, I could drop by after class.
The first answer is that all lessons continue in other subjects, just stated differently. The teachers attempt reinforcement through the use of hints, quizzes with statements about what was learned giving clues to other answers, and websites to search in their free time.
The second answer utilizes the historic excuse of being in the book if anyone needed clarification. If the information in the book is that good, we only need reading, arithmetic, and fine arts instructors. When math teachers believe the knowledge is in the book if clarification is needed, they can go, too.
The third answer is also a classic response dealing with not enough time, supplies, or information to enable any instructor to comply with all the requirements.
The first answer shows a concerned teacher providing different methods of teaching the lesson. The pearls of wisdom are lustrous with radiant highlights, encouraging a closer look. Students hold them and turn them over, investigating all sides. They don’t want to let them go; they add other pearls to the strand and grow richer in knowledge.
The second answer shows an awareness of what is needed. One or two pearls are given out, though not a very good quality. They are not finished well, but are recognizable as pearls. To complete the strand, students must go on a scavenger hunt to find clues and an occasional pearl, usually small and of poor grade.
The third answer produces no pearls, because education is not valued. With the knowledge of the world at our fingertips, there is nothing that cannot be taught or shared. Students have an empty strand of thread. Some find a way to fill their wisdom without formal instruction. Others are unaware they are missing anything, so tuck the strand away and live a life that should have been much better.
When educators do not share knowledge, analysis, and joy in learning, it is difficult for anyone in the class to see the pearls of wisdom cast that day. Many pearls roll under desks, never to be found.