I live in a building of a few conscientious individuals who have had their learning moments. They’ve been making the life of our garbage collector easy for a long time now by attempting to segregate waste at the source. Since they are the key members of the building association, these few people have been trying to push everyone to segregate waste for over a year now. Sadly, the initiative was met with resistance at first (“We can’t do it, Sir, it is very difficult”), later with anger (“Who are you to tell us what to do with our waste?”), and still
later with purposeful sabotaging of the initiative (dumping plastic waste in the wet waste dustbin).
Awareness programs held inside the complex had a turnout of 3 people, door-to-door visits soured relationships, and videos of struggling garbage collectors were met with silence. When we thought nothing would change these people, there came a mail from the corporation. Its essence was ‘Segregate your waste or manage it on your own’. That day there was a phenomenal turn out for the association meeting and the questions flowed.
That was the teachable moment. The moment which lends itself to best possible learning. The existing concept of waste segregation that had been introduced by our building committee was linked to this new initiative by the corporation to arrive at a conclusion or a ‘teachable moment’.
When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task is enhanced. That time is the teachable moment. It is said that such a moment is not dependent on the developmental age but is a unique time leading to discussion, understanding and dwelling on a particular concept. Teachable moments are not limited to episodes following mistakes which opens the learner to new learning.
For instance, the moment to teach about meteors could be during a meteor shower.
While there are these teachable moments, there are also certain Learning moments. I would describe these as the ‘Ting’ moments when you find that two pieces fit together perfectly in your brain. When you connect the dots to solve a mystery. Here there is no teacher involved; a person just needs enough exposure to see the dots and someone to point out the connection (if needed). And then further learning is built on this.
Can we identify the teachable and learning moments in children? Can our schools afford this space?