Unintended Consequences.

Sometimes I really like teaching with the iPads, like when I have an 18 page article I want to read parts of but still make the whole document available to students, and I feel guilty for making copies. The iPads eliminate my guilt.

Or when I’m pretty sure students won’t do a particular assignment at home, but I can give a day in class to completing it in class.

And then sometimes…sometimes I am saying something I feel is important, and I look at my students and all their heads are bent, looking at whatever it is they are looking at on the iPads, and I sigh and say, “Okay, close your iPads.”

And they’re compliant and occasionally we share a laugh about how I was the one who brought the iPads into their class in the first place, so who’s really to blame here, Ms. Rowse?

And then tonight on Twitter, I caught this–a screenshot of myths from a forthcoming book by fellow Journalism adviser Starr Sackstein.

The myth that jumped out at me? Number 9: If kids don’t comply, they aren’t learning.

Just today in Pop Culture, we read part of Henry Giroux’s criticism of Disney films. As we talked about Ariel, I said something–a throwaway comment, really–about how the Disney version wasn’t anything like the Hans Christian Andersen original. And then we went back to the text and read more.

Or so I thought.

Not much later, a student raised his hand and said he found a synopsis of Andersen’s tale, and could he share what really happened to The Little Mermaid?

Was he “with me” or the class in our discussion and reading of Giroux? Kind of. Was he learning? Yep. In fact, his synopsis helped us flesh out part of Giroux’s criticisms of Disney films.

I forget too often that an unintended consequence of teaching with iPads is that students might hear something I say that piques their curiosity, and I’ve given them a device that lets them satisfy that curiosity.

I have to be okay with kids going down a rabbit hole. After all, if I led them to that rabbit hole in the first place, who am I to tell them they can’t find out what’s in it?

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