Under Explaining | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Under Explaining | Mark’s Remarks

By on February 7, 2018 at 9:00 am

Mark Tullis

A few years back, there was a somewhat new term in education. A great local educator had written a book. He also taught a class, and we were all on board with his simplistic way of making a classroom a learning community. 

One of the terms many of us took to heart was “under explaining.” An educator would take a lesson or concept, and just give students the bare, minimum facts. Then, students would be given a chance to dive in and give the skill a try.  After that, the educator could work on areas that seemed to be needed. He or she could also see what information still needed to be reviewed. Many times, teachers using this technique found that students only needed the basics. 

Jumping in, getting hands-on practice was the best way to learn the new concept.

We all use that technique from time to time. It’s pretty basic, and it gives us a chance to walk around and watch how students are progressing. It’s a good way to focus on the students who need extra help. Under explaining.  There are many good things about it.

After turning 50 this year, I’ve decided to start doing my own “under explaining.” My entire life has been spent explaining myself to other people.  I tried to avoid hurting other people’s feelings or would try to explain in great detail, why I couldn’t do something or why I didn’t get something accomplished. 

I’ve decided this must stop.  It’s a little like my column a few weeks ago in which I sang the praises of the word “No.”  Under explaining and that lovely word go hand in hand if you ask me.

It’s already worked for me quite well. I’ve had a few opportunities to practice it lately, and it’s pretty liberating.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that.” In a nice way, I was asked why. I offered very little explanation. Nope, can’t do that. Thanks for thinking of me, though.

Most people who ask you to explain yourself want to be the boss. They want you to do it their way. They want to tell you what to do. Asking you to constantly explain yourself is their way of controlling. No thanks.

There are very few people who really need your explanations. If you mess up or make a mistake and wish to apologize, it’s certainly OK to explain yourself.  I don’t think you need to make excuses for your behavior. Own what you have done.  Ask forgiveness. That’s it. You shouldn’t have to grovel and go on and on.

If someone chooses to hold onto a grudge after you apologize, that’s their problem.

I think everyone goes through a period of time when they are just fed up of having to explain themselves. I never make resolutions, but if I did, mine would involve under explaining this year. Oh, and also saying “No” more. 

Am I telling you to be unpleasant? Certainly not. But if you are constantly questioned as to why you are doing what you are doing, that person needs to be shut down, in a nice way.  It may be someone you love very much. But you are too old to keep thinking you have to answer to others all the time.  

For me, God is the only one I need to answer to.

Oh, and sometimes my wife.  Hee hee.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.