Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaching Mathematics

Here's a nice video of a math teacher talking about his approach at a TED Conference in March 2010:

I taught high school math many years ago. I was full of enthusiasm, but I was beaten down by the hostility of the students. Sadly, I was not able to step back from the process and understand how "trying harder" was not working. The nice thing about the above video is that is shows a teacher looking at his materials and using knowledge of his students to re-shape the lesson in a way that more effectively engages the student. This is a highly inspiring talk on education.

But my experience was that educational trainers and educators and the institution generally overlook the one big elephant in the room: the students don't want to learn. Dan Meyer mentions this and his solution is to make the materials "compelling". That is great in theory but hard in practice when you have a room full of kids with very different agendas. So, I applaud Meyer's inspirational techniques. I wish all teachers could achieve this standard. But I'm not going to hold my breath. It is just plain too hard.

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