A Teaching Moment

One thing that has, for good or ill, come out of the whole Gates-Crowley-Obama affair is the creation or dissemination of the phrase, “a teaching moment.” It seems to be the new catchphrase in the lexicon of race relations, especially relations between Blacks and Whites.

I assume, possibly incorrectly due to the odd inconsistency with which social engineers’ expropriate and redefine words and terms, that “teaching moment” is a corruption of Robert Havighurst’s term, “teachable moment.”

Teachable Moment
Pronunciation: \?t?-ch?-b?l\ \?m?-m?nt\
Function: noun
Date: 1952


  1. A moment of educational opportunity: a time at which a person, especially a child, is likely to be particularly disposed to learn something or particularly responsive to being taught or made aware of something.

Specifically, in 1952  Havighurst advised educators that,

A developmental task is a task which is learned at a specific point and which makes achievement of succeeding tasks possible. When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task will be possible. This is referred to as a ‘teachable moment.’ It is important to keep in mind that unless the time is right, learning will not occur. Hence, it is important to repeat important points whenever possible so that when a student’s teachable moment occurs, s/he can benefit from the knowledge.

— Robert Havighurst
Human Development and Education

Both the phrase and its meaning make perfect sense to me. Likewise, I cannot do other than agree with the idea that repetition is often necessary in order give the best chance of teaching someone something. It makes even more sense in the context of social engineering or any of its sub-disciplines. If you keep repeating something, people will eventually believe it and accept it as fact.

But, since these phrases, “teachable moment” and “teaching moment” are currently coming to forefront of the rhetoric surrounding prejudice, racism, and race relations between Blacks and Whites in America, I have a couple of very serious questions:

  1. Who is intended to be the Teachers and who the Students?
  2. Who decided upon the Curriculum?

If these “teachable moments” are solely meant to be uni-directional and solely meant to be used by Blacks to teach Whites about the Blacks’ perception of America, as I suspect that most of the people using the term intend things to be, then they need to cease and desist misusing and abusing such lofty terms as “race relations” and “racial reconciliation.” Both relationships and reconciliation requires compromise, collaboration, and bi-directional learning / teaching.

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Boiling Down Gates

By now most of America, and probably the Civilized World, knows the basics of the altercation between Cambridge Police Officer, James Crowley and Black Activist and Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. President Obama’s cronyism, stupidity, and racism assured that the incident would be headline news.

Still, there is a lot of divergent opinions on the matter and the underlying causes of it. This is to be expected, since there are many who would use such an incident, and it’s inappropriate addition to the national news, to further their own biased agendas.

So let’s boil down the situation that occurred between Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley:

Gates and Crowley - You Peckerwood Honkie
No! I won’t excuse You for being White and a Cop

On one side of the issue we have Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a professional racial activist who made his fame and fortune largely, though not exclusively, by capitalizing on the “plight of the Black man in America.”

Prof. Gates and his attorney, Charles Ogletree, released a statement – to The Root, a purely “Afrocentric” organ,  of course – outlining Gate’s view of the incident.

On the other side of the issue we have Cambridge Cambridge Police Officer, James Crowley, an 11-year veteran of the police force. Officer Crowley, in addition to his regular duties, has for the past 5 years taught a class on avoiding racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy. He was hand-picked to teach the course by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is Black.

Officer gates, along with his partner, Officer Carlos Figueroa, who is Latino, filed their official police reports of the incident.

What happened? A professional Black Activist and a White police officer who teaches an anti-Racial Profiling course had a dispute during the course of investigating a burglary. Since the issue boils down to the character and probable motives, I’ll you all decide whose story is closer to the truth and who had a motivation and predilection for racial antagonism.

Barring further developments, I’m done with this farce, though I may comment futher on tangential issues.

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