Content Strikes Back
Just as I wrote the title it occurred to me that Content rather sneaks back than simply strikes and picks up a fight with Form. So perhaps, the title of this post should read more as Content Sneaks Back…
Well, I had just finished the previous article on Form vs. Content when a challenge appeared. I like to use clickers in my physics classes at the College and all of a sudden I could not use them anymore. Now, if you don’t know what those are, they are electronic gadgets that work with a program on your computer for instant feedback from the audience. Clickers have become a standard issue nowadays in the academic classroom. I pose a question in class and students click answers A, B, C or D. In less than a minute we see what every student thinks on the posted question. Students love it. I like the instant feedback. So, why give up on using it?
I was so tempted to lash out my frustration, and I probably would have, had I not just finished my post where I extolled the virtue of finding peace and calm in our minds. I couldn’t possibly go out there with guns blazing and fight my windmills at the College, now could I? Didn’t I just say that I must make peace not out there but inside my mind? And that the problems must be solved not out there but where they belonged, that is in the mind?
So, I paused and wondered. There had to be another way – not only to look at the situation but also to get the clickers back to my classroom. If everyone loved the clickers and if it is a sound pedagogical practice, why give up on it? And then, I thought of using our cellphones as clickers. All I had to do was find an appropriate app that could turn our phones into clicking devices. As soon as I let go of my preconceived ideas of what clickers should look like, I had my solution. In fact, our cellphones worked out even better. They were easy to set up, intuitive to use, less expensive, and more versatile than the old clickers. So, I got my content (a clicking thing) in a different shape (a phone).
All that commotion made me think about my previous post. The examples there were about Form triumphing over Content. I realized that I had forgotten to mention what happens when Content “strikes” back. Being of no particular shape, of course, Content can be very sneaky. 🙂 As soon as one form empties of it, it dresses in another form and comes back to us. Look at the world religions, for instance. As soon as one religion falls into a polished, rigid, empty form another spiritual teaching springs up to carry the content.
So, here I end on a positive note. Form can triumph as much as it wants over Content, but Content will always sneak in yet another form. We just have to keep our minds, hearts, and eyes open to see it.