Connecting the Dots!

I enjoyed listening to the Ted Talk, and was reminded of a small group task which one of our teacher assigned us in our senior secondary school. The task was simple, to pick up the text books kept on one side of the lecture hall and to carry them across the lecture hall and stack the books over there. She did not mention anything else about the task and continued reading something on her table. We were around 15 students in the class that day and we were not quite sure why were we asked to do this silly exercise. However, we did not question the teacher and obeyed the instructions. Once we completed the task, she asked us to repeat the task by carrying the books back to their original place. We were a bit annoyed but we still did not question and as ‘good students’ repeated the task assigned to us. Again, when we finished she asked us to repeat the task. Few of us were becoming impatient but were not brave enough to question the teacher that why are we doing it. After repeating the task for about 10 times, one of us finally figured out, we are doing something wrong and that is why we are being asked to do it again and again. By then we were all tired of doing this task as well. The classmate, who sensed that we were doing something wrong looked at the teacher for any hints, however, the teacher acted as if she did not see that student. The classmate thought for a bit, looked at us, and then asked all of us to stand in a horizontal line instead of each of us picking the books and carrying it to the other side of the class. Then he mentioned let us just pass books to each other instead of each of us walking across the lecture hall. This time we completed the task according to that classmate and were able to complete the task more effortlessly and saved time than before. The teacher at this point smiled at us and said did you learn something by completing the task.

This task was not the part of our regular class but we did not even thought once why we were assigned this task, and just followed the instructions. The teacher wanted us to understand the importance of teamwork. She had an objective while assigning this task. However, we did not know the hidden objective, still, we blindly followed the instructions. And when I was listening to this Ted Talk, I realized that this activity had another lesson which was to question. Question our-self, our peers, our teachers before we begin a task. In fact, this is more important than completing the task. Through this story, I would also like to highlight that being a ‘good student’ does not mean not questioning your teacher or your peers but to question, commit mistakes, learn from the mistakes and make new mistakes.

I had a great time with all you wonderful people!


13 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots!

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. As you said, “good” student has to question and think what it’s given to him and don’t make sense, yet many teachers I had in the past (including some at VT) dislike this type of students as they think they take their time and waste class’s time. Also, this applies to the curious kids with their parents. We have seen how some parents think these silly or “unnecessary” questions, thus they ignore them, hindering the creativity of their child.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing. I think I have also learned many things regarding pedagogy and also different ways to illustrate examples, share knowledge and be considerate of students and how they acquire knowledge. Overall I think it is important to light a fire for each student that can self propel their curiosity and desire to learn. At the end of the day, only the students that want to learn and make the decision to learn and grow independently will obtain the greatest benefit out of their academic experience.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I think the definition of “good student” is different between countries. In Asia, a good student means he/her has a high score in academic. He/her doesn’t need to follow the teacher’s order. In my personal experience, the outstanding students usually also make our teacher headache. But as long as the student maintains his/her academic status, we consider that student is a good student.

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  4. Hi Khushboo!
    That was a great story. I can imagine you all were so frustrated before you finally figured out what your teacher had wanted you to learn about completing the task as a group. You have a really solid take home message: students should “question, commit mistakes, learn from the mistakes and make new mistakes.” I might also add “stay curious” to the list! Now that you have made a connection to a high school experience & knowing what you know now about teaching, I hope that you have fresh ideas on what kind of classroom environment you plan to create and what teaching styles/practices you plan to fold into your future practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Khushboo. It highlights the importance of taking the initiative regarding one’s own learning. If we do not question the instructions our teachers and permit ourselves to take risks and make mistakes, we will never learn anything that isn’t already “known.” Finding ways to encourage this mentality in students seems to be an important aspect of critical pedagogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing that experience Khushboo. I think about what it means to be a “good student” pretty regularly and I think it is crazy that there is this widely held believe that being a good student means being obedient. I don’t think obedience, just following instructions, or taking information given by the professor as fact makes a good student. That isn’t how we learn. In my opinion, we learn by not only being introduced to new information but also understanding the new information and in order to understand we have to ask why and question the information we are being taught. That is what makes education so valuable! I have enjoyed questioning educational norms in this class and look forward to working with more students and teachers throughout my career who are willing to speak up and truly engage with education in a meaningful way moving forward.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this story! It really highlights the fact that (unfortunately) students are trained to follow instructions without understanding or questioning the purpose of the tasks they’re given. I expect the response to this exercise would have been similar in most classrooms.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, thank you so much for your story. I have been in similiar situations in the classroom and I think as a kid, I was engrained with “the teacher is always right” as I have continued on in my journey, I have realized it should not be thought of in this banking method. I had a mentor in my undergrad that really challenged me on blindly following “authority” she straight up said why not question those “above” you. It changed how I thought and to why not just try? I also like your point about making mistakes- mistakes are apart of life and I find myself learning the most from said mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great points here! I really like the specific anecdote you provided. I agree that being a “good student” doesn’t necessarily mean questioning others, but instead is connected to a willingness to invent, create, experiment, and even make mistakes. I think this outlook will serve you well as an educator and I believe students will appreciate this perspective as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great blog post Khushboo! I like your point that “being a ‘good student’ does not mean not questioning your teacher or your peers but to question, commit mistakes, learn from the mistakes and make new mistakes”. You are absolutely on point.


  11. Nice post Khushboo! I can relate to your story and remember experiencing discomfort whenever classes did not progress the way I anticipated or I am accustomed to. However, with time and experiences, all of us grow and learn; hopefully through some reflection, finally be able to understand the underlying meaning of a task and how it might have shaped us, the way you came to realize the motivation behind the task assigned by your teacher. Thank you for sharing your story.


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