I wrote that. In all sincerity. On June 8, 2004. In an essay for my credentialing school entitled — of all things — “How Students Learn Math.”
This gobsmacked, gross-feeling moment is what I get for digitally cataloging every essay, handout, and lesson I have written since high school.
I am grateful, I suppose, that it only took me six years to go from “the best learning begins with a good worksheet” to the kind of instructional design that — for whatever good it does my students — has me excited to wake up in the morning, has me constantly double-checking my front pocket for a camera, has me excited to walk around and encounter math in my daily life. I’m grateful because I’m positive there exists another timeline, equally plausible to this one, where I’m still that enthusiastic about worksheets after six years, or ten years. Or an entire career. I hear that happens.
I’ll speculate twice here:
- I don’t think any of the other ten members of my UC Davis cohort ever wrote anything as stupid as “the best learning begins with a good worksheet.”
- I don’t think any of the other ten members of my UC Davis cohort has failed as fast, as often, or as productively as I have in the six years since we graduated.
My first post at dy/dan was four years ago today.
I am extremely grateful to a lot of different folks who have patronized my work over those four years, folks like Chris Lehmann, who threw some shine on my assessment writing in my first week of blogging; folks like Kathy Sierra, Tim O’Reilly, Nat Torkington, and my other patrons at O’Reilly Media, but especially Nat, whose promotion on the Radar got my grocery line post moving, whose invitation onto the terrifying Ignite stage at OSCON 2009 got me introduced to Brian Fitzpatrick who helped me score a job at Google where I met Maggie Johnson who helped me get into Stanford. And a lot of other folks. Especially those who stuck around during those first two years when I was basically angry all the time. All six of you.
I have blogged behind password encryption for an audience of zero and, more recently, for an audience of 6,000 subscribers. Both kinds of blogging have worked certain wonders on my teaching practice.
I’ll say this about the second kind — perhaps just as a reflection but perhaps also as a recommendation to those in the math edublogosphere who are working hard and picking up a lot of deserved press: use more readers as an excuse to fail faster, more often, and more productively.
The closer I track this blog to the theme “what I will do differently next time,” the more I draw readers who introduce me to new ideas, who offer me their time and energy to field-test my latest harebrained schemes, readers who have helped me pinball quickly from failure to success.
For the last four years.
There are worse forms of professional development than blogging.