Julie A. Cunningham

Academic Advisor

Lessons in Unsmartness

1 Comment

It seems that a theme for me lately is unsmartness….. just like the feeling of humility I left the Edmodo meetup earlier this week with, today I left a District committee meeting feeling really unsmart.  Oh, I know that I’m intelligent and innovative, but sometimes the process of learning is hard. Every meeting of this group is a reminder to me of what students encounter on a daily basis- simultaneously building vocabulary and background knowledge without experience to support those things.  I find myself really struggling to make sense of terminology, to relate it to the concepts being discussed, and to apply it to my own body of knowledge, and then to form an opinion.  It’s a rather daunting task, and I caught myself trying to check-0ut of the process several times.  I stopped, and forced my attention back to the words being said, but I’m not sure how much more I was able to grasp after that ‘check-out’ point.

What would have helped?  Well, stopping the discussion to ask for clarification would have helped me.  However, it would have slowed down the group as a whole, and I was unwilling to be the one constantly asking for additional information.  I asked the questions of others on the team at break…. but that still meant that I was ‘lost’ during parts of the group input time.  Next time, I’ll better understand things like “qualitative” and “quantitative”, but it’s still going to take me a while for those words to find a ‘home’ in my brain and daily life where I associate them with their proper meanings.  (Rather like the word “ubiquitous”, that Monika Hardy @monk51295 introduced me to last summer…)

How often do I put my students in this position?  Do I use terms that are difficult to grasp when a simpler term will suffice?  Do they feel free to ask me questions? What is their “check-out” point?

[Oh, and a heartfelt thanks to my fellow team members for stretching my thinking and for sharing your perspectives.  It’s way cool to spend time with you. You rock.  (Which would be the alternative to the other term we were throwing around today, eh?  Instead of “Exemplary”, we could just say “You Rock”.  How’s that for professional?)]

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One thought on “Lessons in Unsmartness

  1. I know how you feel.

    We could change the categories to: You Suck, Proficient and You Rock.