Teaching by teachable moments

A teachable moment occurs when the learners have just experienced something that makes them open, ready and willing to get instructed. There are two ways to utilize a teachable moment: 1) seize them when they happen or 2) create their occurrences. All four migrations I'm foreseeing embrace "teaching by teachable moment". The two developments I've explored thus far (research institutes and college experiences) will thrive on creating teachable moments. The other two I have yet to reveal in depth (certification testing facilities & instigators of the next economy) capture teachable moments as they occur. The only exception is the institutional morass that each innovation departs from. Institutions of higher ed operate consistently on a factory model of "unteachable moments". A sense of timing about when to teach is only possible when the system serves the "job getting done by the customers", not the job thee institution does out of self preservation.

Preaching during unteachable moments
Institutional delivery systems implicitly tell their enrollment to:
  1. Learn content when it's offered at a centralized location, just in case you'll ever need it, regardless of any immediate use or motivation of your own.
  2. Take difficulties as an indication of your own learning disabilities, lack of aptitude for the subject or shortage of study skills --- if you experience any problems with comprehension, retention, or motivation.
  3. Expect teachable moments to be a "hit or miss" affair that cannot be created or captured during the classroom delivery of required content.
  4. Consider how learning really happens when it can be scheduled as the classroom space and faculty become available.

Capturing teachable moments
In Magical Moments of Change Lenore Terr recounts numerous fascinating cases where child therapists seized an opportune occasion to transform thought and behavior patterns. Similar breakthroughs routinely occur for self-directed learners. Because their own questions drive their exploration and their own realizations constitute the actual learning, the context is ripe for teachable moments. Their minds will suddenly open up with new questions, fascination and motivation to explore unfamiliar territory in the midst of successful finding what they were looking for. Self directed learning becomes a virtuous cycle between searching and finding, questioning and realizing, or exploring divergently and reaching conclusions convergently. The process is energizing and fulfilling while it nurtures further growth.

Creating teachable moments
In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath give us lots of ideas for creating teachable moments. Here's a synopsis of their key points:
  1. Students will pay attention as we break their habitual expectations about getting fed predictable, derivative and ordinary instruction.
  2. Students will remember what gets said if it evokes a sense of concreteness, tangibility and solid evidence.
  3. Students will believe what is being offered if it earns their respect and gets vetted by substantial sources
  4. Students will care about the message if it massages their emotions, moods and feelings for others
  5. Students will act accordingly if they have been taken on a journey that equips them to troubleshoot whatever does not go according to the book.
Teaching by teachable moments will provide us with disruptive innovations. Those incumbent institutions that schedule courses, classrooms and test sessions will be left behind. Non consumers of all the costly coercion, contrivance and bad timing -- will flock to enterprises with value propositions based on teachable moments.

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