I Don’t Want to Steal Those “Aha!” Moments!

I remember coming to the understanding that people might see colors differently.  That led me to realizing that maybe ALL of everyone’s perceptions are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.  Holy crap!

Holy crap, am I glad that I thought of it before my boring science teacher told me that.  And yet, in my math classes, I often tried to blow the kids’ minds with stuff they probably hadn’t thought of yet. I made a three-dimensional grid of string in the classroom so they could stand in it, and imagine it stretching out forever.  Did I rob them of the opportunity to think of that themselves?  It’s not a particularly important concept to my class – I could have waited and let them find their own awe.

I’m so engaged. I think this is awesome… and it is! But can my student, who looks so bored, ever think it’s awesome after he’s been told so by someone so boring?

Maybe it’s better to come up with engaging questions on a smaller scale, and to help people to a proficiency with the skills they need to start asking themselves the big questions.


So, here are the questions I want help with (don’t worry, they won’t rob you of a profound thought):

  • When they say, “oh my gosh, I just realized that maybe everyone sees color differently and no one could tell!” what is the best way to respond?
  • Is it ok to throw out a spoiler to your whole class?
  • What are the big ideas you thought of for yourself, that gave you that feeling of dawning awe?

3 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to Steal Those “Aha!” Moments!”

  1. “When they say, “oh my gosh, I just realized that maybe everyone sees color differently and no one could tell!” what is the best way to respond?”

    Actually, there are ways to tell. There is a whole field called psychophysics about determining what people can sense (visually, auditorially, and with other senses). There are experiments that you can do to get some access to people’s perception of color and sound.

  2. Great topic, Riley.

    I’m also guilty of trying to blow their minds with talk about how we never actually touch other objects due to field forces and how looking out into space is actually looking back in time. Both of these concepts are certainly within the grasp of my students, so I should really be working on ways to put them in places that encourage deep thought about them rather than just handing it to them. Still, I do think the occasional shared insight can be helpful to students who struggle to see the connections across units of study.

    One of my big “Aha” moments was in college when I realized that the Bohr model of the atom couldn’t be true, since opposite charges attract and accelerating charges radiate energy. It really clicked for me that this mental model I had just couldn’t be the whole story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *