Falconry: create dissonance, check “under the hood”

Good teachers ensure that their students learn the subject material to an acceptable or superior level.  Great teachers all do one thing well:  they create dissonance in the minds of their students and guide them in the resolution of that dissonance. (Lichtman, 105 pag.)

We as teachers must create opportunities for thinking.  However, even when opportunities for thinking are present, we must still recognize that thinking is largely an internal process, something that happens “under the hood” as it were.  (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 30 pag.)

Asking authentic questions – that is, questions to which the teacher does not already know the answer or to which there are not predetermined answers – is extremely powerful in creating a classroom culture that feels intellectually engaging.  Such questions allow students to see teachers as learners and foster a community of inquiry. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 31 pag.)

In all cases dissonance, the recognition that “I” have a problem, leads first to questioning and then to growth of knowledge or experience.  The individual is directly, in some cases, passionately involved, self-interested in the outcome, in finding answers and more questions and more answers until the dissonance is reduced to an acceptable level.  This is the true process of learning.  It can be tumultuous, exciting, uplifting, rocky, enlightening, or all of them at once.  (Lichtman, 105 pag.)

We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 pag.)

I agree that great teachers create dissonance in the minds of learners and guide them to find paths to resolution.  I agree that this is really hard to do.  I argue with myself. I argue with myself a lot. It is okay for learners to struggle and wrestle with concepts, problems, and goals.  I assume the goal is to retain what is learned.  I assume we aspire to teach and learn rather than present and regurgitate.  I assume that sometimes learners will go home frustrated. I aspire to be strong enough to stand firm and guide learners through the struggle rather than give the solution or solve the problem for them.  I aspire to check “under the hood” for deep understanding.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Flourish.]


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