Robert Leeper

Can we make 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” are sometimes called teachable moments.

It’s interesting that you can struggle to understand something for such a long time, and then suddenly, the answer comes to you. These moments seem to happen at random times, which makes me think it has something to do with what’s going on inside us. But what?

Being interested in something helps, but just being interested won’t help me build a jet engine for my car. Having some basic knowledge about the topic helps, but there were times in math class when I had all the information I needed to solve a problem, but something still didn’t click.

I read one article about teachable moments that said teachers can guess what students need to make the most of these moments. But the article didn’t say much about how to create these moments.

It makes me wonder: can we make a teachable moment happen, or are they just nice surprises?