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Topic: Re: will's. won'ts,can's and can'ts
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jul 10, 1995 2:55 PM

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Posts: 133
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: will's. won'ts,can's and can'ts
Posted: Jul 7, 1995 12:48 PM
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Katherine has started a very important thread in her post when she states:

<<Crudely, I think most students can be categorized as cans or
can'ts and wills or won'ts. Can and can't is irrelevant since
performance, not potential, is what actually counts. None of
us have any problem teaching the wills, and among the wills we
usually hve some borderline can'ts for whom we all go that
extra mile or more. Wills will learn in any environment
because they want to succeed.

Our problems students are the won'ts and we have too many of

I would like to suggest that we start a new topic of
suggestions about things that do work with the wont's. >>>

I do teach at the Community College level and I see the same types
of students as she describes. The can'ts can be dealt with through
patience and help and peer help. Thisis where I feel group work can be
the most successful. Groups can sjow the can'ts that maybe they can. I
agree fully that everyone CAN larn math under the proper circumstances.
The can'ts just haven't found the right environment. I teach a dichotomy
of high school students and returning adults usually single parents who
have been away from math for a long time and never had a good experience
or tried very hard when they were in high school. No one every leaves with
the feeling that they can't do it when they have finished classes based
upon the group methodology. That is not bragging it is my observation. It
is much harder to initiate group work with classes that have only high school
students but if you believe in the process and champion it the students will
go along. If you are not real enthusiastic about group learning it will
probably not work for you because students will try to talk you out of it
and behave in ways to discourage it. You need to convince them that it is
to their benefit to try group learning (no small task as has been pointed out
in previous posts).
If we can help the wills and cans and encourage the can'ts then I think
we are doing a great job. There are some people who are just not reachable
or ready to learn. They may have been ordered to school or threatened with
sanctions or whatever. Ocassionaly I can break through to that student
because in the group process I get to know my students very well and can
sometimes find an interest they have. Sometimes just listening to them and
being sympathetic to their perceived plight can get them back on track. My
own children will often listen to another adult before they take my word for
something (we have all had that experience I'm sure). I am not discouraged
when I have tried my hardest and cannot get a won't to do the work needed to
succeed in math. Their time will come when they are ready. I fully believe
in the teachable moment.
One last comment. It was great to hear Katherine say she will try
regrouping again. I have found that in some cases a group can help make a
breakthrough with a won't through peer help, tutoring and even peer pressure.
Using a strict lecture format with individual performance by the students
precludes any possibility of reaching the hard to get student by alternate


Ted Panitz tpanitz@mecn.mass.edu

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