Yesterday Bibiana, Jason and I gave a one-day “Introduction to PBL” workshop at PAHS. We had 20 participants and the programme for the day included a didactic introduction, followed by an actual PBL tutorial (where the participants were students in an actual PBL case), lunch a debrief and then an interactive role-play session in the afternoon. The PBL Sessions in the morning went really really well. All participants participated in discussions and finished with a very clear idea of what PBL feels like from the standpoint of the student. That’s the good news..
The bad news is that I had my first experience with full out refusal to participate while facilitating a large group session with the workshop participants. Now
grant it, it was really hot and muggy, coupled with the fact that we could either have the fans on and keep cool (but not hear) or turn off the fans to hear but swelter in the heat…. Not optimal learning conditions for sure.
Nonetheless I couldn’t get anyone to volunteer any comments in the post lunch de-brief. I’m not exaggerating when I say I asked for any comments and then waited at least 1 full minute. Now I have a large tolerance for silence when I teach but greater than 1 minute is a stretch even for me. I don’t think it was a Nepali issue because today we repeated the workshop at another venue with different Nepali faculty and there was a lively and engaged debate in the large group session. The room was equally hot and stifling so it wasn’t the ambient conditions that promoted discussion today. Both sessions fell after lunch so it wasn't post-pradial sleepiness. The only observable difference was that today (with the chatty group) there were very senior administrators in the room where as yesterday (with the silent group) there was not. Perhaps having one’s superiors listening in provides incentive to contribute?!
That’s the amazing thing about teaching, just when you think you have something figured out and think you can’t be tripped up, you run across a group that breaks all the rules. Definitely keeps the creative, think on the spot, juices flowing..