September 28, 2022
When I taught middle and high school Humanities, the same doom loop happened every time I had a class discussion: a verbally-confident student made a comment that hit the nail on the head, and then for the next ten minutes, four other kids would add little and rehash the same idea (“to piggyback on … so, yes, basically I totally agree.”).
The result? Among the kids: the student who made the original point sits up straighter—affirmed in what’s likely not her first ace; the “piggybackers” sit back, relieved they don’t have to talk again anytime soon; and everyone else registers as some combination of distracted, bored, or anxious.
As a teacher, my own responses were equally problematic. Sometimes I would jump in and didactically wrench the class to the next topic (I was too impatient or skeptical to let them get there themselves … and plus I studied this in grad school so wanted to nerd out about it!). Other times, I too would sit back—theoretically preserving student autonomy but honestly relieved that they had hit the big idea and willing to let them circle until class ended, or all students had talked.
Doom loops like…