Some comments on my last post:
I read stuff like this, and the first thought that goes through my mind is, “Man, I suck at teaching math.”
I’m with Steve. I realize how far I am from where I should be.
I’m with Steve and Craig- I can’t teach this way yet because my brain isn’t aware/smart/intuitive/mathematical enough to first notice these things, then develop a lesson, and actually deliver and make sense of it.
I’ll echo Steve’s comment, I read this site and I feel like a fraud. I don’t know anything about teaching math.
I don’t teach to disempower students and I don’t blog to disempower teachers.
My largest point with these WCYDWT features, way above any other, has been that compelling, interesting math is everywhere. That you can capture it, mount it, and bring it into your class in such a way that students will also find math interesting and compelling and, in the process, become a little less intimidated by their own imaginations.
But I really suck at teaching that to teachers. Both off comments like those quoted above and off a recent, gruesome experience teaching online, it’s clear that I’m missing some key piece(s) of scaffolding.
I’m trying to determine the prerequisites for this kind of coursework and — correct me here — I’m pretty sure there are only two:
- You like math. You weren’t forced into this job.
- You use math. You’re high on your own product. This isn’t a game to you. Math has made your personal life richer, easier, or more meaningful in the last week.
From there it’s a simpler matter of teaching:
- process — how to flip an interesting thing around into a challenging thing, detailed somewhat in my last post.
- technique — how to (i) capture photos / video, (ii) copy and paste images from the web, (iii) rip DVDs, (iv) download TV shows, (v) layer measurements on top of photos/videos, and (vi) post all of the above online.
Once the process becomes intuitive and once any three of those skills become easy, I think you fall quickly into this virtuous cycle of seeing interesting things > teaching interesting things > seeing more interesting things. The coefficient of friction falls to zero. It’s like skating on ice.
Case In Point
Kate Nowak, on the bite-sized opener clip I ripped from Parks and Recreation and posted two weeks ago:
This is cute, and totally slipped by me even though I watch this show.
I see little daylight between me and Kate as educators, which makes her comment all the more illustrative of the skills I’m talking about, skills which I use often enough that my antenna is on auto-scan for these passing mathematical moments. If I had to guess, Kate has never (iv) used BitTorrent to download a digital copy of a TV show and excerpt a clip in QuickTime, which means there is a certain degree of interference between her antenna and those moments.
Does That Make Sense?
If I allow myself any charity here it’s to acknowledge that this process is as much lifestyle as it is technique, and blogging — or any kind of asynchronous forum where dialogue plays out slowly — may be the wrong forum for teaching it. The right forum has proven pretty well elusive, though.