Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A "Teachable Moment"

On Monday, I taught a Social Studies lesson. The topic of the lesson was "Roles of Citizens." The key terms were election, ballot, jury, laws, and taxes. A lot of the students had a hard time understanding what taxes are for. I tried to pummel them with examples: Roads, schools, postal service, waste management, libraries, and so on. One of the students had a genuine disagreement. This is what he said "Mr. Auto... I heard that the government doesn't need taxes, they just want them."

That response caught me off guard. Also, I was running short on time. Mainly because I was running short on time and secondly, because I wasn't sure of how to reply to him without offending him. My reply would've offended him because my reply would have been in opposition to what he said.

My mentor, Mr. Agajan was calling it a teachable moment because there was genuine interest and curiosity from the class (even though there was a mix of agreement and disagreement). Even one of the students was telling me that I should have used the instance as an opportunity to learn about taxes. I would add that it is an issue with much contention and that kind of generates the class desire to learn. Also, another reason why Mr. Agajan considered that instance a teachable moment is because moments like those when students have genuine interest and disagreement are difficult to replicate.

Looking back, if I was to reply to that student, I think this is what I would've said: "You're definitely welcome to that opinion. Does the government use tax payer money exactly how they want it to be used. Probably not always. Do they sometimes use it the way tax payers want it to be used. Probably. At the same time though, no one in this room works in government, so its really difficult for anyone here to know for sure exactly everything that the government uses my and your parents taxes for. However, do we have roads? Schools? Libraries? Waste management? Police? Fire Fighters? (The reply would be yes) Now, think about this. None of those service providers make profits. They are not businesses. If those services don't make profits, where do they get all the money to do those things? Think about that and come back to me with an answer tomorrow morning."

That's how I would've responded. Is there anything wrong with that? It sounds valid and unoffensive to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment