Teachable Moments

When I was in my forties, a manager several levels above me instituted a program called New Age Thinking for all the employees in his laboratory. The seminars he sponsored featured relaxation and meditation techniques, visualization, affirmations, and self-realization.   I clearly recall my reaction when asked if I wanted to attend the voluntary seminars … I like the way I think just fine, thank you.  Twenty something years later, some of these techniques are part of my day-to-day disciplines but smack dab in the middle of my arrogant forties, I wasn’t teachable.   I didn’t know I wasn’t teachable … in fact, as far back as I can remember, I believed that we are here to learn from every experience.  But my preconceived notions and insecurities … usually manifesting themselves as arrogance … kept me from doing so.  I needed some Teachable Moments, which life was only too willing to provide.

In education, the notion of a Teachable Moment was popularized by Robert Havighurst in his 1952 book, Human Development and Education as a situation which arises that makes a student particularly open to learning from the discussion of a particular topic.   Barach Obama recently expressed a wish that the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Gates would be a Teachable MomentGates himself said that my entire career as an educator has been devoted to racial healing and improved race relations in this country. I am determined that this be a teaching moment.   Teaching moment comes closer to what teachers or politicians mean by Teachable Moment … an instance in which a prescribed concept can be taught to someone else.

In the circles I travel, a Teachable Moment is a time at which I am open to learning something, most often brought on by a situation outside my usual routine.   I like to think that the something I learn is God’s will for me.   Unfortunately for us as a species, we are more frequently brought to our Teachable Moments by difficulties … if not crises or tragedies … in our lives.   We seem too inclined to accept good times as our due instead of looking for lessons there.   Recently, I read a post on (life)lessons, one of my favorite blogs.  In Breaking open, the author expressed a wish to Find the lessons hidden within the craziness that is (her) life.   She seems to have reached a Teachable Moment.    I’ve spent many journal pages and many nights awake hunting for the lessons in such moments … sometimes, I’ve succeeded in finding them.   But as I’ve aged, I’ve found that often, simply accepting the situation … without hunting for the lesson … is enough.   The lesson is more likely to find me when I’m relaxed and open than when I’m search frantically for it.   I think that’s called relaxing into life.   What a concept.

What do you think?  Do you have Teachable Moments?  Do you have Teachable Moments in good times?

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6 Comments on “Teachable Moments”

  1. undividing Says:

    Thank you for the tag back, as well as the honor of being one of your favorite blogs – I always appreciate your thoughtful reading and replies to my ponderings 🙂 Right now I’m shifting my focus to contentment, which in a way is exactly what you suggest, relaxing into life…maybe I’ve already learned some lessons!


  2. “I like to think that the something I learn is God’s will for me.”

    I like to think that too.

  3. Chaz Says:

    I became teachable shortly after life handed me my own ass for about the 10th consecutive time in about 3 years.

    It took this many beatings to sufficiently crack the protective shell I had formed over the nearly 4 decades prior. Made up of many strands of dysfunctional, unhealthy, insecure thinking and behaving.

    As a result, I consider myself what might be called an lucky unlucky person. Meaning I suffered some pretty severe pain and major losses. But the final result was the privilege of being someone I never was when cocooned in my shell of sick self-preservation.

    The pain was all worth it. The task now is to continue to grow and not fall into the mistake that progress is arrival.

    Ciao.

    Chaz


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