Monday, December 3, 2012
Teachable Moment, Definition: An unplanned opportunity that arises where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to the student.
As some of you may know, I’m in the market for a second dog, a boxer dog, and no fewer than three friends have contacted me about the same dog -- a deaf, one-year old white boxer advertised on Freecycle.
I’m perfectly fine with the color and the age of the girl. I’m certainly down with the price. But the deaf part might prove a stumbling block. You see, while there are advocates of one training method or another – the clicker, rewards, the Koehler method, dominance, impression, and so forth – my school is strictly verbal.
As to how that works, we start with the basics, usually behavior-specific corrections: "Will you shut the fuck up," for openers; followed by "Will you fucking heel," and "Get the fuck down."
Once grasped, we can then move on to a more conceptual level of communication, such as, “Why did you fucking eat that,” graduating to, "What the fuck did you think you were doing."
As with us all, it may take years before the dog reaches some sense of probity, then and only then can we elevate the conversation to philosophical arguments, spur discussions regarding Cartesian dualism for example, with, "Do you ever fucking think," and, "Are you fucking out of your mind."
After we’ve truly bonded, reached that mystical state of mutual understanding, we can look in each other’s eyes and know what the other is thinking. "Oh fuck, you didn't," hangs in the air. But no words are needed. We just know it’s there.
Back to the deaf white boxer. I did look up sign language. Likely we’d get about as far as the index finger and thumb forming a C for both of us to lose the immediacy of the teachable moment. And at that point, likely I’d just say “Screw it, when you finish eating my underwear we'll play some ball and call it a day."