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‘An acre is the area of a rectangle whose length is one furlong and whose width is one chain’

February 28, 2016

So I NEVER do this….. 2 posts in 1 day. On a Saturday night no less. Geek. Anyhow an email from a colleague got me thinking so here we go (and I spent the whole day with my kids so I don’t feel so guilty….)

The other day my grade 3 kids had a hard time thinking. That is pretty significant. Mainly because I think I allow ‘for inquiry’. So, we were learning parentheses in math and what this means.  Why we need it- yes these little inquirers ask why. And, as many things I didn’t know- I said great question – I don’t know but lets find someone who does. New stuff for most. We all agree that memorizing things are not effective.

On we go to the number problems with parentheses, hard for almost all. Learners were pretty dismayed they couldn’t get the answer quickly. Hmmm.. did this mean that my previous math was too easy?  Or have I given them something really hard? Or….gulp– were they really challenged before, is this the first time they felt challenged? Wow that was a HUGE thing for me.  Anyhow, a lot of the kids started to give up. But wait!  Teachable moment here. I aim my  lessons for my ‘highest’ learner, surely this goal was attainable to all though. It was actually great to see the kids fail. To think and try something differently.

So I stop the lesson (this was after a carpet time plenary/instruction giving/examples etc..) and with extra 10 mins for a few learners. Still didn’t ‘get it’ and throw in those word problems well.. ‘forgetaboutit’. (Granted the word problems are pretty unauthentic to being with but thats another post).

So I was like, well so…. how did you all feel? Most said awful. They  failed. Couldn’t do it. Gave up. ‘Please don’t make us to it again’.  Don’t want to it again. Im like- but you tried for only 3 minutes and you gave up??   I thinking OMG!! have I like, totally turned my kids off of math? Learning?

So we had a sit down and talked about our misunderstandings. Problems. Frustrations.  We went over the strategies again. There were some ‘aha’ moments. Some kids still didn’t ‘get it;’ and thats ok. They will later. Maybe. Maybe not. Life goes on and maybe they will get it later, or not and I’m ok with that. I’m sure they are too. So my own wondering/worry  is  about the math and more about the motivation to learn, the perseverance to learn. Resilience. This really worried me.

AND here is what’s also worrying…. can my kids handle challenge? Failure? Are we always teaching for success, expecting success? Is failure recognised/rewarded- well the thinking part of it. N one wants to fail. Or here is the most horrible thought. Am I letting them struggle enough? Have I given them enough time? This may sound odd, how cruel to make kids struggle.The kids are really finding it hard, they don’t get it, they don’t understand. Help them. Tell them answer……Here in lies the problem with my teaching perhaps, and maybe others.

We don’t let kids:

  1. solve problems
  2. find problems to solve
  3. have time to solve problems
  4. seek conduits to the real world to solve problems

We give them the answers in the end. Or worse we give them the question.

So essentially we are killing their ability to question and solve problems. To think critically. To be patient and to KNOW THAT ITS OK TO BE WRONG and THINGS WORTH LEARNING TAKE TIME AND ARE HARD.  If it was easy we would already know it right?

So I’ve come to value confusion. We need confusion, conflict, uncomfortableness to really learn deeply. To have those ‘aha’ moments. we need to learn out of our comfort to understand and not give staged scenarios or always give kids the answers- or the problems.

Love this quote by Dan Meyers video that we (kids)? now ‘expect simple problems’. and students now have ‘An impatience with irresolution’. Scary stuff if these kids are building our bridges, flying our airplanes, running our governments.

So it leaves me thinking about Dan Meyer’s Tedtalk (which we also saw at the recent Inquiry maths workshop in Bandung last week).

‘An acre is the area of a rectangle whose length is one furlong and whose width is one chain’Pink Floyd The Wall

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2016 4:49 am

    When you’re in Melbourne, try and go to Lana’s session or spend some time with her.

  2. March 1, 2016 6:06 pm

    Done. And Ill be sure to have a conversation with her when Im there for sure.

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