CIPs Teaching Tips – Fall 2012 #12 “an educated response”

“an educated response”

The final weeks of the semester are a good time to remind students about what it means to be educated. It is also the perfect time to help them to be cognizant of what they are carrying out the door of your classroom to use in future courses, their upcoming careers, and in their daily lives – which hopefully will include lifelong learning.

So how can we communicate what it means to be educated to our students? Below is one model to use.

There are three levels of response to new information, concepts, and experiences:

The emotional response – This is our first reaction. Our emotions are engaged; we find the new information, concepts, or experiences we have encountered to be comforting or disturbing. We might be enticed or perhaps our fight or flight response is aroused. This is normal. It is also necessary in order to progress to the second and third stage. Some people do this internally and process very quickly. Others externalize these reactions. Staying in this stage and not continuing beyond it is not an educated response.

The intellectual response – This is our second reaction. Our mental process is engaged. What we know, or think we know, based on our knowledge and experiences to date, is used to analyze and evaluate the new information, concepts, or experiences we have encountered. We are using our minds and perhaps even  new meaning that was created during our education; however, we are not yet exercising an educated response.

The educated response – This is our goal, to respond in an educated manner. This means that we progress beyond the intellectual response and build upon it. We do this by seeking to evaluate our intellectual assumptions and conclusions. We ask ourselves if we need more information. We attempt to uncover relevant information we are unaware that we do not know. We explore the conclusions of others where appropriate. We then combine these new discoveries with our intellectual response and create an educated response. This response by its very nature is temporary; it is our current response and as such is open to revision when we encounter new information, concepts, or experiences.

Here’s an interesting post on Forbes about what it means to be educated:

Again, this is a wonderful topic to discuss at the end of the semester; it’s also a nice way to frame the beginning of a course. What does being educated mean to you? to your students?

I’ll leave you with my favorite definition of being educated from the Forbes piece: “a desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends”

Keep on learning,



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