Reciprocal Discomfort

On Wednesday, Butler University hosted its start of year faculty workshop. I presented on my experience of teaching online in the breakout sessions. In the first plenary session, we were compelled to write about, and then share with others sitting at our table, one thing that we find challenging or that makes us insecure.

I could have written “Having to talk about what makes me insecure with my dean” – since he was sitting next to me, and would soon hear what I wrote!  :-)

I wrote instead about the uncomfortable feeling of relinquishing control of what happens in class, as one makes room for discussion. This can be particularly hard for an introvert. What if students don’t say anything? What if they haven’t even done the reading?

Even as an introvert who could feel much more at ease writing lectures and reading them, I know that students benefit from discussion. And so I force myself each semester outside my comfort zone.

It was interesting that the others in my small group at the table shared similar thoughts.

It struck me, upon reflection, that there is something appropriate about this. Each semester, I aim to move students outside their comfort zone. It is only fair that they reciprocate by moving me outside of mine.

Learning is an adventure, and without risk there is no learning. And so I am glad that, as I thought about this subject, I happened across this Savage Chickens cartoon, which illustrates the space in between content safety and paralyzingly terrifying danger where exciting adventures such as education – and teaching as an introvert – take place.


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