Genius, pt. XIV

At the end of the Edinburgh chapter in Eric Weiner’s “The Geography of Genius,” the author wrote about Scottish universities during Edinburgh’s golden age. He found out that universities at that time and place were “genius factories” and not “creativity killers,” and one of the reasons was “that the learning flowed in two directions, not only from professor to student but also from student to professor.”

“Scottish professors viewed the lecture hall…as a laboratory. There they test-flew their latest wacky idea. Adam Smith first present his seminal Wealth of Nations as a series of lectures to his students. Their average age? Fourteen.”

It seems unfair and silly for a professor to discuss the Wealth of Nations to a class of 14-year-olds but then I thought, “why not?” and I was reminded of one my classes this week wherein we were answering Eiken questions. One of the questions was about whether it’s okay for students to evaulate their textbooks.

Both of my students had basically the same answer: no because (1) there are many students so there will be too many opinions to consider and (2) students aren’t knowledgeable or mature enough to evaluate their textbooks.

Their answers were interesting because I didn’t think of them and because my answer was yes. I thought students should be allowed to evaluate their textbooks because they can contribute to their contents or style. They are, after all, the ones who are using the textbooks.

Even after considering my students’ answers, I still think the same way because I do believe that teachers can learn from their students even though teachers have more life experience or know more about certain things. It’s important that students respect their teachers, but I think that if teachers respected their students opinions too and allowed discussion in class for the students to speak out their opinions, the world would have happier students and maybe more geniuses.