09 February 2008

Triage versus health

Was having an informal discussion about some of our lab with colleagues and some teaching assistants. The teaching assistants were talking about students not showing up for quizzes in the lab, and so on. One of my colleagues said, "That's not our problem."

Of course, what was meant was, "That's not our immediate problem."

My colleague was thinking about the immediate needs of running a lab: Are there adequate supplies? Do the teaching assistants have the information they need? Immediate, high-priority needs.

Like so many things, there's a hierarchy of needs. You can't worry about your relationship with your partners or parents (long-term, low priority need) if you don't have food and shelter (immediate, high priority need).

Unfortunately, trying to deal with those immediate needs means that we don't have too much opportunity to spend time discussing the sorts of things that we ultimately want to be talking about. How do we make students eager to learn more? How do we give students tools to learn in a way that works for them?

No comments: