My Scholarly Reflections

This is where I tell what I think, so that I see what I say

I ask…but they don’t tell!

with 7 comments

I ask: “any questions?!” …silence… I again ask “was I clear enough?!”…silence…[I do not want to say: “Did you understand?” – this assumes problems with them… their understanding; No! I need to create experiences which facilitate their understanding.So the problem is with me.] During that uncomfortable pause, I desperately search for an appropriately framed question. In desperation, I dig deeper into the content and retrieve a more specific question: “Was I clear enough on X?” …silence… But I pick myself up and shoot another one… “Did you notice that Y meant X, not Z?”. Now this becomes embarrassing as well as uncomfortable – for both parties. They notice my (increasingly visible) misery. Hey! there is movement… like a gentle breeze moves through a field, heads move…there are murmurs… like lovers whisper sweet little things to each other…but then things grind to a halt!! Blank faces staring at me, some with amused smiles. OK! I give up! I just stand and watch. Let the silence take its course.

But in a few minutes, murmur turns to chatter. I grab a chair, and sit with a group. The group stops talking, as if I am a wicked wizard who robbed them of their tongues. But I again ask: “how are things, guys?” Silence. After around 10 seconds, one of them musters up courage and asks a question. Hurray!

p.s. My primary school going son told me that he was scolded by the class teacher because he interrupted class by asking too many questions and commenting without permission from the class teacher!


Written by Amer Khan

March 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. Your son might be a threat to the teacher since he looks smarter than the teacher… 🙂 Let’s admit it, a lot of academicians think they are the know-all type and students are nothing which I found totally wrong. Classroom should be fun learning place where we give students chance to develop their idea. But then maybe they have same problem in primary school like your son which make them hesitate to speak in class.


    March 25, 2012 at 1:35 am

    • Thanks, Zara, for your comment. I suspect the docile attitude of our students has its origins at school. School is most likely where their behaviour is conditioned and hard wired. Now I feel that my son has started showing signs of timidity in even our conversations as well!


      March 25, 2012 at 3:40 am

      • Interesting. Let’s take it a step at a time. Be their friends, but put a boundary in the class, at least in a formal setting. When out of the class, we are friends and we can share thoughts. Constructive one.
        I must say we must break ourselves from the ‘managerial’ and ‘conventional’ thoughts that we are the teacher, they are the students. This cannot, that cannot. What is wrong if they add us in their FB and we interact there. Aren’t we in the digital world that we are all ‘connected’.
        I do not want to see myself as an ‘old guy’ in front of my class, students. But at times i must gain respect from them as well. AS there is a saying, “you play your role in class, i play my role”.
        What have been done in the past cant be change. But we can change the future. I think for me, i start from myself. I assimilate myself into their thinking and world. It might look as ifi am on a higher ground as compare to them, but deep inside me i know i am not (and i convey to them this thoughts of mine). So i always told my ‘kids’, “hey, im here like you guys, to learn. I am once a student like you all so i totally understand how it feels like to be like you all as well. After all, i play DOTA, Counter Strike, and many more FB games such as Draw Something. Now hows that for a lecturer eh…?”.

        Just my humble thoughts.


        March 26, 2012 at 1:16 am

  2. I know that feeling bro, happens all the time 😐


    March 26, 2012 at 1:54 am

  3. @J-Man, spot on! putting ourselves in their shoes is the name of the game!

    @victor, it helps alot to know that I am not alone! cheers!


    March 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

  4. Hi Amer, I am making sense of your situation through the notion of cognitive overload. Is it possible that normal behavioural capacities may be temporarily lowered due to excessive cognitive overload?


    March 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

  5. That could be a likely situation, DP. More so because so much info is being processed that a quick response may not be possible. So perhaps it is not a problem of student shyness or motivation, but of cognition. If I put myself in the student’s shoes, I think I would react in the same way!!


    March 29, 2012 at 1:40 am

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