On Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 5:29 AM, GS Chandy <email@example.com> wrote:
<< SNIP >>
> > > > [ I think Benezet's + Haim's solution would be a > > fun experiment: no math up to 6th grade and > > then no math higher than 6th grade level i.e. > > get all the arithmetic you need in one year and > > you're off the hook -- opt in if you want more > > but it's your choice, not Nanny State's. ] > > > Possibly - but I would strongly advocate that students should be > ENCOURAGED (not PUSHED) to learn (whatever; whenever they express interest > in learning, as is done in Montessori schools). > > Children ARE curious - and the 'teaching processes' must learn how to > capitalize on that curiosity. >
I have avoided the push vs pull vs carrot vs stick discussion.
I like to distinguish content from age group to some level. When I teach Python I can refer to "the function mouth" and it sounds like I'm talking to kids, but it's just typography: f( ) looks like a mouth turned sideways and is where the function "takes in" arguments. That's not an unfamiliar concept in math teaching: functions take in and put out.
But do I get to refer to 'class Dog' giving birth through the birth process __init__? The usual name for __init__ is "the constructor" but does one construct a dog or grow and put out a new dog, or give birth to a Dog. Of course dogs give birth.
The word "birth" is apropos. But to the extent my metaphors become "carnal" in this way, the Holy See may crack down, that is if I were a nun or bro in its Holy employ (as I have been).
As it is, as an adult education courses guy, I am at liberty to be as biological as I like. And in Saturday Academy classes for teens, if challenged, I have material ready about how teens like Grossology (the name of a traveling science museum exhibit with them in mind).
My point in all this is that demographics matter and that's the way to look at it. My style, manner, accent, metaphors, just may not click with a given subculture. Their expectations are too different.
At the Catholic school, I was considered a good teacher, but also was a threat because I did not typify a lot of qualities associated with teachers. In our 'What Does It Mean to Be Human?' honors class, team taught, I was sometimes eldered by my peers that my content was disturbing to them in ways they had some trouble articulating at times. I was glad to get feedback, have been getting it ever since.
But you know how it is: some teachers don't fit in some classrooms. Students go through this too. They walk in and it hits them: I don't belong. However because his or her parents have come thousands of miles at great risk to be here, largely for the sake of him or her self, the pressure to "do well in school" is very high so "fitting in" becomes a full time job, whatever the seeming odds.
But now, with the Youtube, you can go shopping for teachers. Other ways you can do that too. Tim and his father picked me as a personal mentor through Saturday Academy. Tim's mom went to Princeton, I went to Princeton, it all sounds really clubby, but the basis of their choosing me was web pages and curriculum writing, as well as geographic proximity and my affiliation with The Academy. They shopped on-line and I was their pick.
Fast forward and we're starting to lose classroom dynamics at the adult level. You remember the classroom: students see and judge each other, use the teachers judgments to help form their opinions, including of the teacher. Everyone is judging one another and in some classrooms there is open chiding, teasing, challenging or whatever. In a democracy, it's not always the teacher's job to clamp down on cross-talk, not even backtalk, because we're training equals, not subordinates. Anyway, you know the scene, you have your own childhood to remember at the very least.
But now imagine all that going away and it's you in a solitary study room with your books permanently there, no carrying them all over some building, and you have a large monitor, a camera that can see you when you turn it on, a microphone etc. This is your "one room school house" and the others in it are all on your screen.
In the world I frequent, it's an asynchronous teacher who sees your work and gives you feedback, while you surf the Internet looking at exhibits, you and your brain. The teacher is looking at your work individually and carrying on a correspondence, like in the old "correspondence school" (that's what it is you could say, just sped up and on screen), but you're in a bus or train, or at home or a coffee shop, working on a tablet.
That's how so many more adults are getting their education and I would say it's trickling down, through One Laptop per Child (just the whole idea) and smartphones and whatever.
Classrooms are still a great format for some subjects, especially where improv and performance is stressed i.e. the whole point is to interact in real time with other students and perhaps a leader / teacher / coach or whatever. Organized sports are like this, as well as organized religion. Scouting (sometimes -- a lot of scouting activities are solo too). So I'm not saying the "classroom format" is in any danger of going away.
What I am saying is that more and more people are getting their "math" (in quotes because I blur that with "computer stuff" and "technology / science") over the wire from the security of their own study holes (their cubby holes, cubbies). They do not "go to school".
And so now, with all that new backdrop, even for children, how does one "push"? You're not there with them as the teacher. Are you supposed to urge, threaten, cajole in your emails? Is it the teacher's responsibility to "make sure you learn"? Or is that your responsibility as the student? You pay me to teach you and I turn it around quickly when you send me homework. The pace you set is your own.
You may get really busy and slow down in your math homework. Is that any of my business? In large universities, professors sometimes sail aloof, as their TAs do the grading. They read about it later in the reports, how many of their students failed or passed, or do they ever find out or care? Lots of open questions it seems.
In my case, the meter is ticking after you pay me (actually you pay the school which pays me a fixed salary and benefits) and you could slack off too much and have the meter run out, and still you haven't finished your math course.
It could be you've decided career advancement depends on completing this course and you may blame me, the teacher, for not reminding you that you were supposed to perform.
I anticipate those complaints by sending out reminder emails when they go silent for some time. I nudge them. It's like your local gym, of which you are a member, sending a text to your cell every month saying: hey, we've missed you (not something most gyms do, but they could). "What's up, how're you doing?".
That's a far cry from the old classroom ain't it? And they don't see each other. No teasing, no chiding, just you and the teacher and the material. For a lot of students, this seems a huge improvement and they never look back. They may use classroom-based courses to advance in other areas, such as theater, but from me, they're getting "math".