Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bothers, part 1

Hello! It's been a while...and not for the lack of topics or even time. Yet, there has been some inner turmoil, pondering and soul searching on my part, among other thing, for the sake of keeping my written material relevant and fairly reflective of my true attitude and stand on various subjects. It made me choose today's topic over some others, more technical and concrete.

Let me ask you something - what bothers you most as an instructor? Is it untalented students? Slackers? Is it parents? (A very BIG concern if you teach kids). Maybe infrastructure issues, rent prices..? Let me tell you what is my pet peeve - asking and answering stupid questions!

I am also very encouraging about asking questions, no matter what they are. However, I really do not have much patience with the people who do not pay any attention to what the instructor does, and then ask about what was said just five seconds ago. Naturally, not everybody is at their most focused whenever they come to train, for all kinds of reasons, and that's fine. I understand that and do not frown upon it, as long as it does not interfere too much with everybody else's training. Yet, there are people who never listen to what your are saying or look at what your are doing, session after session...and also tend to ask bursts of question, usually either unrelated to the subject matter, or already answered. Frequently, they will ask the same thing more than once during a class because they were so inattentive that they forgot about having already asked.

Another type of irritating occurrence is when someone asks a question and want to hear the specific, predetermined answer. If not, they will ask again...and again. Sometimes, if you persevere in giving the "unsuitable" answer they will leave, an those are my preferred ones. But there those, much harder to deal with, who will keep coming back and actually trying to change your mind about it. at this point, I wonder why do they ask, if my stance/opinion is obviously not what matters? Maybe because they care? But then, do they care about making me understand, or just proving their point?

OK, so, how do we deal with those? In training, I usually tend to work with those types personally during a session, and the reasons are two-fold. First, because it spares the practitioners who are there to work from having to deal with the wining and unstoppable effort to debate a point. That way, people who are willing to work on what has been presented can do it in a more constructive and supportive atmosphere, so the possible questions that may follow will hopefully be more pertinent and asked with some understanding.

Second, sometimes it allows me to create the conditions (thinks constraints and affordances methodology) that will force the student to understand the message. If nothing else, it enables me to start asking them questions in return about what we just did, and so they have to think about the answer instead of just blurting out some words that sound cool to them. And no, it does not always work :-)

The point is, when is it enough? When, if ever, do you give up on such a student and either ask them to leave, or simply stop paying attention, while focusing on those who deserve it more? Honestly, I do not have an exact answer. I approach the whole thing on a "case to case" basis and monitor how the things are unfolding. And then, depending on the situation, I will proceed one way or the other. 

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