Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Children in school are like children at the doctor's...

When I was a child (and even now), I loved going to school. I enjoyed learning (most subjects) and had a great time at all the institutions that I have attended. Now some of my siblings were the complete opposite to me. They hated going to school to learn. Nunu who is now in year 8 is the same - school is attended for socialising, not really for learning. (Unless of course it’s the favourite subject being taught or a “nice” teacher’s class).

Whilst commuting to University, I was hit by a sudden realisation as I read “How Children Fail” (J. Holt). I had naturally assumed that the students I will teach would want to learn; that they would share my enthusiasm as I took them down the wonderful path of Mathematics. Of course, from the little teaching experience I have, I knew that a lot of students hated Mathematics but I was challenged by this thought. I felt that I could change the student’s perception of Mathematics and make them want to learn it and enjoy doing so.

Now Holt mentioned the fact that students are in school because they have to be there. They couldn’t care less about how the lessons go, but that they make it to the end of the day. So automatically I am fighting a losing battle.


“Children in school are like children at the doctor’s. He can talk himself blue in the face about how much good his medicine is going to do them; all they think of is how much it will hurt or how bad it will taste. Given their own way, they would have none of it.” (Holt, 1982)

I particularly like that quote for it’s made me think that although it’s good to be enthusiastic, I shouldn’t set myself up for a big fall. I shouldn’t exceed the students’ expectations of themselves (if that makes sense). Yes it’s good to push at boundaries but miracles shouldn’t be expected. I need to check back on my optimism whilst making sure the learners have at least a positive mathematical experience. That sounds quite hard too. Perhaps I need to spend a little more time thinking about what I need to expect of the students when I’m teaching them. Is it right to have any expectations?

My post was meant to be about the scripted lesson sessions I had, but in this break I can’t discuss them (no time). I find myself in bed by 10-11pm would you believe it, and am completely exhausted when I get home. The above had to be posted before I forget about it you see (!), but I do hope to post again, tonight or early morning (for I have something to do for tomorrow which I can’t imagine competing over night). And perhaps I will edit this post when I read it again, for I have four minutes to get back so no time to proof read.

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