Wow

That’s the first thing that came to mind after reading this blog post: http://emergentmath.com/2011/03/22/what-teachers-want-an-education-parable-written-by-a-math-teacher/

Essentially, the blogger, who is a Math teacher, details how a traditional math lesson would play out. The teacher teaches the content, then supplies work to assess their understanding. The work will likely be similar to the examples that were given in the notes. The teacher is baffled by the many, “How do I do this?” and, “I don’t understand the question.” The student is frustrated by the lack of help, or guidance from the teacher. The blogger ends the blog with the question: “Both Teacher and Student have a gripe. The question is this: Which one has a legitimate grievance?”

What amazed me was how the blogger was able to capture how accurate a typical math lesson would play out. How the student would have felt. The internal dialogue that would have occurred and the frustration he/she would have felt. The teacher, at the same time, feels the same frustration and the internal dialogue is so real that I remember many times thinking the same thing when interacting with students.

I get so caught up in what I want to say. I spend so much time making sure I’m very thorough with my content. With how I present it. How I say it. How I explain it. I pick the right examples. Break it down to teh best of my ability. Explain it. Ask questions to gauge if they understand. Make sure to give them opportunities to ask any questions they may have. Expand on questions that the few brave souls do ask. And then when I give them work, confident that I got through to them, it’s like I was never up at the front. I’m repeating or rephrasing things that I thought I said perfectly well. I’m left, like the teacher in the blog post, baffled, frustrated, and down right confused. What happened? What the heck were they thinking when I was up there? Did I wear something too distracting?

Worse, I’m left feeling insecure without even knowing what I did or didn’t do.

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One thought on “Wow

  1. Marc Garneau says:

    Yes, he does paint the picture very well! For a long time, I was that teacher. I incorporated humour, energy, and interesting tidbits into my explanations, thinking that the engagement would mean better listening and therefore better learning. And maybe it did, a very little bit – my best students did very well! But even my best students would ask those baffling questions, and I would bang my head against the wall – why don’t they just think? It took me awhile to realize – they weren’t thinking because I did all of the thinking for them. They weren’t doing the math – I was doing the math. No wonder! As much as possible, now, I try to do less and let the learners do more, and as Dan Meyer says, be “less helpful”. (2.5)

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