A&O Vignette: “What am I doing?”
GOING WITH THE FLOW
In great presentations, paths and connections between interesting ideas are clear and orderly. In A&O, however, I often introduce a topic and go off on tangents as new associations come to mind. The effects on seminar participants range from confusion to insights that derive from an unexpected connection. In the spirit of “all the best connections are unexpected” I consider digressions flesh on the hopefully well articulated bones of the presentations.
Preparation for class is only useful to a point. I find that putting ideas on paper often summons up new associations or ways of framing ideas… but then while speaking out loud in front of real people these ideas often change again.
I am privileged in A&O by an agreement with the class to pay attention to new ideas and help me get back to the original idea when its new connections run out of steam. This resonates with the psycho-semantic mindmap. Most students seem to appreciate the expression of real-life creativity on the fly and are thereby enabled to behave similarly. Tangents can become viewed as sources of major creative breakthroughs in understanding or the least an interesting connection. They seem to come to appreciate that the technical details are not as important as the creation of connections that help the own the content.
The professor in the cartoon is open to the moment and acting spontaneously, questioning himself and his product as he goes. The audience knows no more than he does—it is their close attention that opens them up to discovery from an unexpected direction, spontaneously expressed.
All verbal expression, unless closely scripted, involves intuition and spontaneity.