Really interesting question – I can’t remember that far back to be honest. I do know that the students made me rethink a lot of my assumptions about communicating and engaging with non-experts. There was a real sense of going back to school – with you as the student!
A lot of kids, in trying to understand paleoanthropology and the importance of new discoveries, ask for more clarification on what makes US human. This is a very challenging question, and one that I grapple with daily. So far, the best answer that I’ve heard (from Dr. Matt Cartmill) is “Being human means that “being human” means whatever we say it means.” (Which gives you some indication of how important communication and semantics are!)
Yes there have been quite a few situations where a question or suggestion makes me think “so why do I do it that way?”, or “I never thought to try that”. Sometimes we focus so much on a particular problem or task, and we are often working with other people with similar training and experiences. A fresh set of eyes on a problem can really make us look at a problem in a different way and think outside-the-box.