Lessons From My Classmates

Posted: 21 March, 2010 in My thoughts

PBL Boredom

At Wits, dental students are subjected to an activity known as PBL – or Problem-Based Learning.

The idea is that people learn most rapidly when faced with problems that they need to find ways of solving. This is the most natural way of learning. So – we are presented with some particular topic, and we need to think about it, as it relates to dentistry and research aspects of the topic, where our current knowledge is insufficient to solve the problem. A PBL consists of an introductory session, where groups are formed to discuss the topic with a supervisor. In this session, research topics are allocated. A week or two later we will meet for the feedback session which involves educating the rest of the group about the subject we were tasked to research, as well as finding a cohesive thread with which to tie everything together in the form of some presentation, be it a play, or PowerPoint slide show, or whatever, that we can relay to the class in the following session – the plenary session.

Its about now that the eerie organ music begins to play,  announcing our impending doom, because the plenary session is about the biggest waste of time, breath and energy that a human could conceive of. It should be unethical actually. All in all, a PBL robs a student of about 6 -8 hours which could have been spent doing something productive, like playing pool, or watching paint dry.

Last week, however, in our plenary session some students brought up something interesting which redeemed the whole PBL. They made the point that often, when people are put into a stressful situation, where they have limited time, resources and energy, their real attributes come to the surface – showing that fundamentally, nice people are really anything but nice people.

The truth is, that humans have, at their core a rotten character which they manage to hide pretty well most of the time. We can be nice, kind, gentle and accommodating of diverse people and situations when we’ve got everything together. BUT when the rubber hits the road, and the going gets tough, the real person we are rears its head, and guess what – its not a pretty picture!

Does behaving in a nice, civilised sort of fashion most of the time make us good people? A clean facade?

Does a nice, bright, yellow banana make it a good banana when the inside is brown flesh crawling with worms?

We are fundamentally flawed – Jeremiah says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments – the Law, not simply because he wanted them to behave in a certain way, but to show them that their hearts were always inclined toward evil, and so when push came to shove, their sick hearts would overflow in their actions – breaking the law.He was showing them that ‘good’ outward behaviour was not enough.

Lets face it – at the end of the day when you’re put in a corner, your true character is going to come out, as my friends admitted in our PBL.

Suppressing the symptoms doesn’t solve the problem – we need a cure for the root cause – a new heart.

A heart free from the bondage of evil that it is doomed to serve forever, a heart that can choose good when it is under pressure, a heart washed clean once and for all.

  1. this past week I was reading a chapter that dealt with the heart and the verse that speaks of “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. I have been making more of a concerted effort to making sure the stores of my heart are godly so that it will overflow in those pressurised times.

  2. balram bhikha says:

    Wo dude as you can see im having fun on the internet before our anat test. but i want to commend you on your website again… its really awesome. thanks again for the notes… nd good luck for the test tomorrow

  3. Inge says:

    i know this comment is probably a bit late, but wow what an awsome post. I find that i tend to, rather that just be me, start acting like the people that surround me. Guess i need to look a little deeper in my heart and find me again

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