I love when someone answers a question with a wild guess or a funny remark, but then that answer proves right on target. Such was the case in a recent lesson on making moral choices and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I was explaining that we need to form our consciences to be able to make good moral choices. Since I learned long ago never to take for granted the students’ vocabulary knowledge, I backed up a step to be sure everyone knew what conscience was. I asked for someone to explain it for us, and one of the boys volunteered laughingly: “It’s the cricket.”
I recognized the reference immediately and said, “Yes!” He looked at me, surprised that I accepted his answer. I prompted him to explain it for anyone who wasn’t familiar with Pinocchio and his voice of conscience, Jiminy Cricket. I pointed out that the idea of conscience was also often portrayed in cartoons as an angel and devil on opposite shoulders of a character making decisions, to which another student reacted: “That was what I was going to say!”
Taking advantage of the ways animation depicts the concept of conscience was a simple, but helpful, way for my students to make the connection between conscience and decision making. I then led the young people to think about conscience in a deeper way, and we looked at steps for making a good decision as outlined in the Prayers and Practices section of our Finding God textbooks. The fun moments of thinking about cartoons loosened up the young people, it seemed, so they were willing to discuss the ideas related to promoting the dignity of all human life, another point on the agenda that session. We took that conversation seriously, and it was encouraging to witness the young people’s engagement in the discussion.
I had planned a game for that evening to explore the steps of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but quickly decided that continuing an engaging conversation on key issues was more important. We can always look at the steps of the sacrament another time, and I wanted to take advantage of the teaching moment in front of me.
When have you taken advantage of a teachable moment? Have you ever had a seemingly silly answer turn out to be the turning point for a discussion?