I have been sitting in some lessons in the hope of observing what some students do when they don’t know what to do next. Today, the teacher asked me to help a student who has been having some difficulties with the work they have been doing recently.
There were occasions when I felt the teacher intervened before it was necessary. This is a judgement, but an honest one. I felt the solutions would have been within her grasp, given more time. I made the decision to intervene as infrequently and as unobtrusively as possible.
On completion of a problem, I avoided evaluating her solutions, asking only: ‘How can you check whether your answer is correct?’ I sometimes asked some variant of: ‘Does this make sense?’, regardless of whether the answer was correct or incorrect. This is another form of checking, but with it comes the opportunity to make connections.
Checking is a primary means of coming to know for oneself, with which comes confidence, and the development of what Gattegno called 'inner criteria'.
'Teacher lusts' are ever-present; they come from a variety of sources and manifest in a variety of ways.
In my short time working with this student, I felt the desire for the student to be 'successful', but instantly became aware that this was based in pride, bringing with it the desire to intervene more than is necessary, and the possibility of disappointment.
Some degree of non-attachment is required. With this comes a movement away from wanting to having faith, thus allowing the student time and space to come to know for themselves. Taking the wanting out of the waiting.
With this comes the possibility of the equivalent in teaching of a ‘moment of grace’: the student solves a problem which previously seemed beyond their grasp and, upon checking their solution, they come to know that they are correct, without any intervention.