… however we’re defining “next-gen” nowadays. Oh and I’ve met Darren, who’s good people.
I only ask on account of my impression that math, maybe more than any other secondary subject, lends itself least to this self-directed, participatory culture promoted by the next-gen crowd. Not unrelatedly, liberal arts bloggers (English and Social Science, specifically) outnumber us by a pretty wide margin.
It should go without saying that lecturing isn’t necessarily an effort to make the teacher feel smarter, more powerful, to subjugate her kids, or any of the other whack motivations next-gen teachers throw around in an concerted effort to get uninvited from my birthday party.
I lecture â€” and by “lecture” I mean short bursts; five animated, image-heavy minutes max before I have my Algebra kids getting dirty with numbers â€” only because I believe it’s the least frustrating way for them to learn a wide breadth of material well. Nothing more sinister than that.
Darren’s got a high-functioning slate of calculus and precalculus classes. Sophomore year of high school I was that high-functioning kid who taught himself precalculus over Christmas break and then wrecked the calculus final. The next-gen approach works for some.
But my kids come in Below Basic and Far Below Basic, unhappy and unconfident math students. The next-gen strategy, as best as I understand it, is to put them in charge of their learning, hand them the textbooks, get them on the Internet making math, get them talking to each other and, I swear, as honestly and accurately as I can predict the result of that year, it wouldn’t work. I’m pretty sure it would be a disaster and I’m not willing to bet a school year on the possibility that my intuition sucks.
Perhaps I’m being narcissistic. Perhaps kids in other content areas carry the same intellectual baggage as do my FBB Algebra crowd. Doubt it, though.
We’ve got a lot of kids stuck in this very complicated intellectual thicket called “math” and they need really competent guides to extract them. I suspect that all this enthusiasm for kids to extract themselves is a response to a desperate shortage of good guides.
We respond. We say, “This is too difficult for us.” We offer them a textbook, the Internet, classmates from other cultures, and the well-meant promise to answer any questions they have. We volunteer to split the burden of their extraction 50/50.
And I agree with them: this is a very difficult job.