February 13th, 2009 by Dan Meyer
That's Milch's term, coined in the first excerpt from my last post, a term he uses to describe the outcome of too much television: a society too intellectually lazy for complicated answers, fatuous thinkers who look for simple answers from their elected officials who will eagerly supply them.
I realize I see my students for a slim fraction of the time they spend elsewhere, but I am so concerned lately with my contribution to their impatience with irresolution. I want to do everything I can to make them patient with irresolution.
But I ask a lot of binary questions:
"Is the answer positive or negative?"
"Is it a function or not?"
"Is that in the first or the third quadrant?"
This is frustrating, but worse was my first three years teaching when a student would answer:
"It's a function."
"The first quadrant."
And I'd congratulate correct answers more or less instantly. My output of those years is a student body that could blindly guess at a correct answer while faking total confidence.
Nowadays, I don't much care what they answer. I'm disinterested. I want to get past their answer. My response to their answer is an automated "Why?" That's where the action is.
I have been asking questions lately like "If the students in our class are the domain of a relationship, is their hair color a function?" which you can successfully defend from either angle.
I like the debates. I like the fights. I'm happy that we're slowly detoxing off our addiction to easy answers, taking longer to answer questions that are worth more of our time.
Related Post — Not Automatically Generated
- Making Them Think, Frieder Knauss