Can We Make Our Own Teachable Moments?

Can we make our own teachable moments?I recently watched an interview with Milton Glaser, “Milton Glaser’s Window Inspiration”, and I keep circling back to something he said.

“Sometimes a short-order cook slicing a sandwich is artful and will give you a moment of understanding that you couldn’t have had otherwise.”

These “moments of understanding” sometimes go by another name: teachable moments.

It fascinates me that it can be so difficult to grasp something for so long and suddenly, for no apparent reason, the solution will present itself. The fact that they seem to occur at such random and odd times leads me to think it has more to do with something happening internally, but what?

Interest helps, but interest alone won’t help me build a jet engine for my car. Some base level of understanding the topic helps, but there were times in math class where I had all the information I needed to take the next step, but there was still something that hadn’t clicked.

I found one article about teachable moments that suggests teachers can anticipate students’ needs to help make the most of teachable moments, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of how to start them.

I can’t help but wonder: can we trigger a teachable moment, or are they meant to simply be a welcome, but unexpected gift?

Photo credit dbking