Going off on a Tangent – Discovery Learning

There are many times during the day that we as educators may go off topic or on a tangent during our classes or lessons. Whether this is of our own accord or caused by a students question, in my opinion this can be a good thing. The important things are to ensure that the tangent is appropriate and to come back to the central theme.

The reason for this came this morning. Every morning my students and I listen to O’ Canada or watch a video that has the song. This particular video we watch has a scene where there are logs dropped from a helicopter into a river.

After the video a student asked why the logs were being dropped into the water. This allowed a discussion about logging, a primary industry in Alberta. As well as River Logging and being a Log Driver, both parts of our heritage as they are no longer practiced in mainstream logging.  It also allowed me to show a great video to the students, about the River Driver that I used to see at least once a week when I was younger.

Needless to say the 5 minute tangent was a great learning opportunity and I hope that the students enjoyed it as much as I did.

Personally, I love this approach to learning because it requires the students to as questions about what they see, in addition I can answer their questions by asking different ones to further engage them. Another  significant reason I like this is due to experiences in my past. I recall often asking questions in class during some lessons, trying to understand and relate what I was learning, but hearing the response that it wasn’t relevant to the lesson or that it was off topic and we needed to get stuff completed. Whose to say that it isn’t relevant? Everyone’s method of understanding and comprehending is different and learning in any sense or context is what we want, unless I am misguided, but enough ranting.

It was a great learning moment and I hope to have many more and to hear about others experiences.


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