How I Found Pedagogical Nirvana: Beware of the Law of Unintended Consequences!
E. L. Deckinger
A man lights a match for illumination in his home, and the whole house blows up.
Another man marries the girl of his dreams for bliss and contentment ever after and, instead, acquires a meddling mother-in-law.
A balding man buys a new product that is supposed to grow hair, but instead causes terrifying impotence.
Each of these scenarios illustrates the usually perverse Law of Unintended Consequences.
I participated in the St. John's University Commencement exercises one fine day in the mid-1980s, as I always do. As usual, I thought it proper to honor our graduates. However, that time, perhaps for just once, the normally cantankerous Law of Unintended Consequences was not perverse. In fact, it was anything but problematic.
One unintended consequence of my attendance was a chance meeting with a distinguished fellow professor. That meeting resulted in a seismic conversion in how I went about the process of teaching: A conversion perhaps not of the scale of Saul's transformation into Paul on the Damascus road but, in its own way, of earthquake proportions! Attending that particular graduation rewarded me with an unexpected, but very welcome, dividend. So what else was learned from that experience--other than that we professors should always attend our college graduations?