Normally I take some solace in the idea that I will always know more than the students. That idea was challenged this week by a student who thinks he knows more than I do. He is a paramedic, so does have some background. He asks a lot of questions--actually the whole class does, which is great. They are engaged, and I can tell a lot of them have done the readings before class.
At the end of lecture on tuesday, I passed out numbered cards and divided the class into 8 groups of 4 each. I gave each group a topic from the lecture and asked them to create a test question on the topic. They spent about 20 minutes on it then turned the questions in.
I looked at them Tuesday evening and cleaned them up a bit. Overall they were pretty good questions--I could tell they were thinking. I made slides out of them and then presented them at the beginning of Wednesday's lecture. We have a clicker system so that they can answer questions, and the results show on the board. It's pretty cool. It was a great teaching opportunity.
Anyway the paramedic student started challenging some of the answers, and questioning whether they were correct or not. Some of them weren't which was part of the point of the exercise, and others opened up discussion about why something might or might not work in a particular situation. He didn't like it.
I resumed lecture, and at the end, he raised his hand. He indicated he thought I had made a mistake and given conflicting information on a few slides. I hadn't and explained why the information was correct. His body language told me he wasn't buying it, and I asked him if we should discuss it further. He waved his hand at me, and said "nah--just go on".
Well, it bothered me, and still bothers me. From a teaching standpoint, I'm solid ground--I do know this stuff and know what I am talking about. I have seen it all.
I think it was more how it made me feel. There was this brief moment where I thought that maybe I don't know anything, and I could feel my self-confidence shaking a bit. It recovered, but I was reminded of the time in my life where I had no self confidence at all, and how hard I had to work to overcome that. At moments it seems so fragile, which is strange, because I can look back at everything I have encountered and overcome in this life and know that I have earned my place in it.
Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that.