Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nobody Likes a Know-It-All

"Nobody likes a know-it-all and no one knows this more than me, a recovering know-it-all.  I used to think that people would like you more if you told them all of the answers; it turns out they like you less!"

I have started the last couple of school years with this statement and I have begun using it in the modeling workshop. 

Why?  Mostly because it is true - nobody likes a know-it-all.  
Telling your neighbors the answers doesn't promote learning.  
And it is very annoying.  

Being a participant in a modeling workshop is very challenging.  We ask the participants to put themselves in "student mode".  That is, we want them to think like their students.  This is challenging for the best of teachers and very difficult for teachers who haven't really thought about what their students are thinking.  

How do you go back to a time before you understood something?  We call this "retrograde amnesia" and it is a necessity for getting the most out of a modeling workshop.  

A problem arises in that know-it-alls are often also "explainers".  We have preached from day one of the workshop that "telling is NOT teaching!"  However, there are still a couple of participants who's first instinct when someone asks them a question is to launch into a long verbal explanation.  What's up with that?  This becomes a big issue when participants with limited content knowledge enable this behavior because "listening" has been their main learning strategy.  We need to break this vicious cycle!

Another type of know-it-all is the "quipper".  This is the participant with a ton of obscure content knowledge that thinks that the more random facts he can interject into a discussion the smarter he will seem.  For example, the other day we were making observations about a buggy car.  I asked about the mass and the participants told me that the mass was constant.  This quipper responded with, "Not as it approaches the speed of light!"  I almost threw the buggy at him!

One of the central tenets of the method is dialogue.  How can you have a constructive dialogue if you feel the need to tell everyone around you the answers or show them how to do the problem or show them how smart you are?

I want the participants to grow out of that paradigm and embrace the questioning techniques that we've been practicing and modeling from the very first day of the workshop.  


Bryan Battaglia said...

Holy Cow! Don Pata has a blog now. Welcome my friend! Quippers are definitely annoying.

Jackie Sage said...

So, even when i do know it all, i should keep my trap shut? Or my iconic quips? I may explode