Do you have students who can’t function unless they have clear answers? Or students who question you to death about everything? I do and I always find myself imploring the first group to tolerate the ambiguous nature of questions and the second group to appreciate the definiteness of answers. Helping students find a healthy balance between these two extremes is a daunting task.
A few years ago a student in my philosophy class sent me this delightful comic strip by Kostas Kiriakakis titled Mused: A Day at the Park. The comic is a conversation between a bizarre looking alien with one eye, holding a mysterious box in his hands and a disheveled monster wearing an oversized coat and undersized hat. The monster wants to know what’s in the box, and the alien happily complies with the request…
They then embark on a conversation exploring the pitfalls and possibilities of questions and answers and the relative role each should play as a guide for learning and life.
The conversation is fascinating. I’ve shared it with many colleagues and hundreds of students. Each person who reads it comes away with something different.
It also really gets me thinking about my own teaching philosophy:
Am I more like the alien or the monster with my students?
Which one SHOULD I be more like?
If being an alien and a monster are both important, then how do I know when to switch from one to the other to inspire the most student learning?
Take a look. How would you answer these questions?