Off topic tangents are a good thing for class

peter spiegel

You know that moment in class when the lesson veers (rarely by design) into some esoteric, off-topic, or inconsequential idea that lasts for more than a half hour. My students used to love these days because they would think that nothing important ever happened and it was usually good for a lot of laughs, some weird story, or both. Imagine bring in a geography class and then all of a sudden, the teacher and the rest of the class are hotly debating the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python. Seemingly off-topic… When teachers notice that their class is heading into the abyss of a tangential conversation, should they pull in the reins and bring it back on course, or, should they embrace the unknown and just dive once more into the breech? It is a question that educators have debated often in the teachers lunch room (BTW- it is NOT an ‘lounge’. There…

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