Friday, July 31, 2009

Instead of Teachable Moments, How about Learnable Moments

Professor Henry Louis Gates had the best line of the day, referring to Sergeant James Crowley:
"When he’s not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy."
For all the hype and discussion about which brews should be offered, the so called beer summit set a good tone. President Obama could have organized a White House Conference on Race, with a variety of earnest participants offering their diagnoses and prescriptions for race relations in the U.S. Instead Obama invited Professor Gates and Police Sergeant Crowley over for a beer.
Instead of teachable moments, we all could use a few learnable moments, as E.J. Dionne noted yesterday:
The problem with "teachable moments" is that the term sets up one group of people as teachers while another group is consigned to the role of pupils.
Gates and Crowley do not lack for teaching opportunities when it comes to race. Gates writes and lectures on the subject. Crowley teaches classes on avoiding racial profiling.
Inviting Vice President Biden to join them was a smart move. Biden is well known to police departments across the country as the guy who wrote the bill to put 100,000 cops on the street in the 1990s.
Commentators have piled layers of meaning on the episode. It was good to bring the focus back on the participants, who seemed to get along just fine. Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley agreed to continue talking.
Photo: AFP


Blogger karmic said...

Tom, nice cogent analysis. Was nice seeing you at the TheaterN last night.

11:35 AM, August 02, 2009  

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