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Any school teachers in the house?

  1. Nov 21, 2005 #1


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    Ok, so it's like this.

    I've signed up to be a dude in industry who helps out at a local school with their engineering club. It's a voluntary thing, but some of these kids will be 18 year olds who have a fair idea of what's going on, and I've only just really come out of uni, so the potential knowledge gap isn't necessarily that big.

    Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it (and the project looks like it's gonna kick arse) but I have my reservations about one thing: How do you teachery types deal with a situation when you just don't know how to do something the kids are expecting of you? Clearly the obvious thing to do is just to admit you don't know/can't do it, and that you'll try and find out for 'next time', but supposing you just can't, what do you do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2005 #2
    Well, have been teaching flying stuff for a bit more older youngster, range 18-25. Most don't ask the impossible but sometimes there are those smart asses.

    And as you thought pretending to know is a no-no. They'll find out soon enough which means that you're not only dumb but also not trustworthy and you've lost it from then on.

    So, Admit it, show a little modesty but don’t act; just be yourself, make a joke (prepare a few), praise the one that requested the impossible about being able to ask such smart questions. After all who knows it all, and promise that you’ll google it out. From then on you’re not that bad, even a bit human.
  4. Nov 21, 2005 #3

    Chi Meson

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    Try these:

    "That's an interesting solution; you want to show the others how you did it?"

    "That's sounds like a pretty good idea; do you other guys see a problem with it?"

    "Try it and find out!"

    And the last resort: "I forgot how to do that; I guess it must be really important!"
  5. Nov 21, 2005 #4


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    Thanks boys and girls!

    The project is a Formula Student type thing (but for schoolkids), so most of it's going to be very practically based, but I am always rubbish at answering technical questions under pressure. Since I'm only acting as a consultant, rather than a team leader or anything like that, I reckon I'll try to get the kids to do most of the technical work (or at least research how to do it) and then step in if it goes tits up.

    I'm not so much concerned about the smart-arses; the group is made up of kids giving up their lunchtime to do this. It's not compulsory for them to be there so they should show some enthusiasm. We'll see how it goes!
  6. Nov 21, 2005 #5
    Hmm...I'd review the material with "V&R"...aka, "Vigor 'n' Rigor" :smile:

    Or simply reacquaint yourself with engineering rigor and technical matter. :shy:
  7. Nov 21, 2005 #6


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    Since you're volunteering, there shouldn't be any pressure on you. It's not as if you have a time limit on your answers, or even a solid obligation to provide any.
    If you just present yourself as you do here (or in the engineering forums, at least :biggrin: ), you should be sufficiently popular that the kids will overlook any minor glitches.
    As a last resort, if you find yourself totally unable to obtain an answer to something, just PM ol' Uncle Danger and I'll make something up for you. :devil:
  8. Nov 21, 2005 #7


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    You'll walk away a better engineer for the experience. In anything, it's a world of difference between learning something and then teaching that same thing. Before I TA'd in college, I thought I knew the subject pretty well. That changed when the explaination that came easy to understand for me wasn't easy for someone else to understand.

    I'd say that you have good advice already. I would simply say something along the lines of "I don't know. Let's look into that." Your methods of solving a problem will be valuable lessons too. To me, seeing a senior engineer work out a problem is more valuable than the answer they give me a lot of the time.
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