Chatting with Chintaka

13 August 2004

Immediately after class, Chintaka and Howie started talking about the case together. I was impressed by the quality of their conversation, and said that it was a shame that it hadn’t happened like that in class … and Howie pointed out that he did have his hand up when Chintaka was speaking but wasn’t ‘picked’. I thought no more of this conversation until Chintaka came by my office 30 minutes later.

We talked about the quality of the discussion he had with Howie, and how engaged they had been that had spilled out of the classroom into a larger discussion with another student. They would like more of those vigorous free-flowing discussions, and so would I. He suggested that some of the process, such as writing things on the board or waiting to take turns, was killing the discussion (my words not his). That may be the case, and I wonder what to do about.

Part of the problem, I suppose, is that I don’t know what someone is going to say, so sometimes what gets said doesn’t stimulate the discussion–rather it flattens it, or loops it back to old points. The other part of the equation is that, some people are less ‘forthcoming’ than others and need to be given ‘room’ to speak.

I’m trying to respond to what the class says it needs. I wonder if I should not do that, and hope that the class takes a more active roll in managing what is going on (as Chintaka, Howie, and others are wanting to do).

I feel that many people are uncertain about what to say, so they take every chance they can to say something “just in case”, rather than wait for the time when they have something well considered to say. Perhaps, the idea that it isn’t necessary to say something every week (to get full marks) isn’t being well heard. I don’t know – but it feels like some people are getting squashed out of the conversation.

Maybe next week, we’ll try the card technique–once you have spoke you turn your name card over (and don’t get called again/cards turned up, until everyone has spoken, which might take a week)… What do you think? It would be helpful to get some feedback from the class.

Anyway, Chintaka and I had a most engaging discussion that, despite me having to leave, continued all the way to the car park at Shortland Street.