Tonight's class was about radio navigation--useful enough in itself, but what really interested me was something the instructor said.
"Does anyone not understand that?"
He said that several times during the class. I'm sure he meant well--wanted to be sure we all really did understand. But the effect of the question was as if he had wanted to intimidate us and to surpress any questions.
This is something that's been bothering me since the course began. I hear it every class meeting, several times over, from both of the instructors.
People sometimes do ask questions in groundschool classes--but almost never in response to THAT question.
And, of course, I've heard it in almost every class I've ever taken--usually with the same effect.
Russell Nye is the person who got me thinking about this problem. He used to ask, "Do I make myself clear?" For quite a while I just thought it was an odd way to ask the "Do you understand?" question. After a time, however, it dawned on me that Nye was taking the responsibility for clarity and for communications. His question wasn't a challenge--never felt like one.
When I went back into the classroom as a teacher, I tried to find some way to ask Nye's question in my own language. I tried several variations, such as, "Is that clear?" That was better than the direct challenge, "Do you understand?" but it still feels as if I'm implying that it had BETTER be clear--or else."
Eventually I found myself asking, "Does that make sense?" I've used that question or minor vatriations of it for a couple of decades now, and although I'm not really pleased with it, it seems comfortable enough, and it gives me most of the responsibility.
Nye, on the other hand, took ALL of the responsibility with his "Do I make myself clear?"
I don't feel comfortable saying that; it seems too artificial for me. So I'm still looking for the RIGHT question.
What I know about the groundschool instructor's question is that it's negative and threatening: "Is there anyone who doesn't understand this?"
Who in the class would be eager to say, "Me! I don't."?
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