I don’t take issue with a great deal while I’m teaching. I’m accepting of the broad span of opinions and preconceptions. I rarely feel the need to lecture people in or out of lessons, and I would never tell you your opinion is flat-out wrong. But when someone laughs at someone for not knowing something, that’s when I dust off the soapbox.
I had a very intelligent sixth form student ask me if the Pope was a Catholic. It was meant with mirth around the room. That student had the confidence and the wherewithal to turn to the class with a smile and point out that she had never actually had a conversation about the Pope. The concept of ‘catholic and protestant’ was not a conversation she had ever had in her atheistic household. A fact accepted as Something Everyone Should Know had never actually been said aloud in her presence.
When I see another student chuckle at a peer for their lack of knowledge in ‘something obvious’, I take a moment to pause the lesson and ask the whole class (never picking on the chortling student) an ‘obvious question’. One that usually works is “what is the Capital of Australia?”.
The vast majority of the class are unsure. Those that guess say Sydney. When I point out to all of them that it’s Canberra, I also point out that I did not make fun of them for not knowing, even though “it’s so obvious”. If a friend doesn’t know something, they aren’t an idiot; it’s just that no one has ever taught them that important information.
The next time a person around you, young or old, expresses a lack of understanding in something “so obvious it’s funny”, don’t make fun of them even if you know everything that has ever happened in the world ever. Educate them. Chances are they’ll help you out the next time your knowledge is lacking.