Feb 8, 2009

I Hope to Teach More than Math

There's power behind infusing tidbits or randomness into the classroom. Connection to academic content is unnecessary. Simply spend 2-3 minutes each day discussing something completely irrelevant but appealing. Buy your students' attention. Steal their interest. Give them a reason to show up to class. Give them something to talk about. Give them something to remember. Let them know you're not all math, you're more.

This comes to life in my classroom through the projector. Photos and clips. Photos and clips. They come off as random entertainment, but also serve as an intermission before our brains work math again.

The majority these tidbits are funny or entertaining. Youtube clips of ninja cats or babies biting fingers. Photos of new gizmos and gadgets to highlights of recent sporting events. 2-3 minutes a day - small sacrifice to pay for large impact. Kids' look forward to my class. And they remember it. (As evident by SO MANY ex-students who can still recall... "have you shown ____ yet?"

Today I decided to do something different. Last night, riots occurred in Oakland demeaning what could've been a highly successful, highly meaningful nonviolent protest. Scoping the internet during my prep, I read over what broke out. I also viewed images. Why not take a break from silly intermissions to something more real? Why not show these images? Why not discuss? This is something current, something relevant, AND engaging. I decided.

I'd preface the discussion to prevent it from degenerating into violent story time. This is about politics as personal. I'd set a 5 time limit & ground rules, and we'd do it. The goal: to provide a space for students to discuss issues of social justice, a space for students to be exposed to what's going on in their own backyard, a space for students to voice and form opinions. I'd share my opinion to close, but would emphasize that this is our dialogue... not mine. They ultimately form the vision they'd like to see of the world, not me.

And so it went. And it went well. Each student highly engaged, listening intently to each others' opinion. Of course, I'd interrupt at times and play moderator to students eager to offer disagreement. But it went, and I was happy with it.

What I do hope to impart: Protest and rallies for a meaningful cause is effective. It is our duty to push for progress, especially in a place like Oakland. However, action without organization is unnecessary. And what happened occurred last night weakened the message folks hoped to send.

And now, onto inscribed angle properties...

(Huge credits to MW for the guidance and suggestions on this one).

1 comment:

Xyrus said...

I read that teachers in math or science are in demand and will not be affected too much by the economy, especially if you get into higher tier math.