Explain It To Me

A nearly-verbatim dialogue, in honor of one of the hardest-working students I’ve ever taught.

Student: Can you explain this problem to me?

Me: Sure, the idea is… Wait. You got it right.

Student: But I don’t feel like I did. I feel like I guessed.

Me: Well, explain how you got your answer.

(He proceeds to give a perfect explanation of the problem, justifying every detail.)

Me: See? You understand it.

Student: No, I just guessed.

Me: You “guessed” a flawless, conceptually motivated solution to the problem?

Student: Yes. You have to explain it to me.

Me: I mean… okay…

(I proceed to parrot back his explanation to him, virtually word for word.)

Student: Ah, thanks. That helps.