The White House was coy Thursday as to what sort of "teachable moment" would emerge from this evening's meeting between President Obama and the two men embroiled in the controversial Cambridge arrest that sparked a national dialogue on race.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dodged questions as to what lessons Obama hoped would be gleaned from his meeting with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley at the White House.

"I think many people would have hardly imagined something like this happening this time last week," Gibbs said of the meeting.

Obama had contacted Crowley, who he'd said "acted stupidly" to arrest Gates in his own home, last Friday, inviting him to the White House for a beer. Gates, the African-American scholar who'd suggested his arrest was a product of racial policing, accepted.

"This is a conversation and dialogue that happens not just because of the invitation of the president," Gibbs explained, adding that similar conversations take place every day across the country.

Still, reporters pressed Gibbs as to why the president wouldn't be available to comment on the meeting if he'd meant for the meeting to be a "teachable moment."

Gibbs said that Crowley and Gates would be free to speak to the media after the meeting, though he had no idea as to whether the two would.

"I don't want to get ahead of what may or may not be talked about," he said of the meeting's contents.