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Topic: [ncsm-members] Polya's Ten Commandments for Teachers
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Polya's Ten Commandments for Teachers
Posted: Feb 5, 2013 5:50 PM
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From Mathematics for Teaching website. See
George Polya's Ten Commandments for Teachers

[Posted by Erlina Ronda]

This is George Polya's 10 commandments for teachers:

1. Be interested in your subject.

2. Know your subject.B
3. Know about the ways of learning: The best way to learn anything is
to discover it by yourself.

4. Try to read the faces of your students, try to see their
expectations and difficulties, put yourself in their place.

5. Give them not only information, but "know-how", attitudes of mind,
the habit of methodical work.

6. Let them learn guessing.

7. Let them learn proving.

8. Look out for such features of the problem at hand as may be useful
in solving the problems to come - try to disclose the general pattern
that lies behind the present concrete situation.

9. Do not give away your whole secret at once-let the students guess
before you tell it-let them find out by themselves as much as

10. Suggest it, do not force it down your throats.

I got this from the plenary talk of Bernard Hodgson titled Whither
the mathematics/didactics interconnection? at ICME 12, Korea, where
he highlighted the important contribution of George Polya in making
stronger the interconnection between mathematics and didactics and
between mathematicians and mathematics educators.

If it's too hard to commit the 10 commandments to memory then just
remember the two rules below which is also from Polya. Combine it
with Four Freedoms in the Classroom and you are all set.

The first rule of teaching is to know what you are supposed to teach.

The second rule of teaching is to know a little more than you are
supposed to teach.


The Four Freedoms in the Classroom

[Posted by Erlina Ronda]

You will find that by providing the following freedoms in your
classroom an improved learning environment will be created.

The Freedom to Make Mistakes

Help your students to approach the acquisition of knowledge with
confidence. We all learn through our mistakes. Listen to and observe
your students and encourage them to explain or demonstrate why they
THINK what they do. Support them whenever they genuinely participate
in the learning process. If your class is afraid to make mistakes
they will never reach their potential.

The Freedom to Ask Questions

Remember that the questions students ask not only help us to assess
where they are, but assist us to evaluate our own ability to foster
learning. A student, having made an honest effort, must be encouraged
to seek help. (There is no value in each of us re-inventing the
wheel!). The strategy we adopt then should depend upon the student
and the question but should never make the child feel that the
question should never have been asked.

The Freedom to Think for Oneself

Encourage your class to reach their own solutions. Do not stifle
thought by providing polished algorithms before allowing each student
the opportunity of experiencing the rewarding satisfaction of
achieving a solution, unaided. Once, we know that we can achieve, we
may also appreciate seeing how others reached the same goal. SET THE

The Freedom to Choose their Own Method of Solution

Allow each student to select his own path and you will be helping her
to realize the importance of thinking about the subject rather than
trying to remember.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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