Think Thank Thunk makes me want to throw my hands up in the air. I’m not a good writer, but that sentence was carefully crafted to be pregnant with ambiguity. Because with every post Think Thank Thunk author Shawn Cornally writes, I rejoyce… and I despair. Reading him is like reading Dan Meyer again for the first time (although they seem to have slightly different cause celebres, they actually are saying almost the same thing). It’s all obvious common-sense things. Motivate. Have the kids come up with the questions. Once the hook or need is there, pounce. Capitalize. It doesn’t have to be “real world.” It just has to somehow get the kids internally invested, not just by grades. With a question. And a need for an answer.
I feel inspired by what I could be doing, and like a total lame-oid for what I am doing.
Yeah. Thanks guys.
Recently I’ve been inspired enough that I’m going to try to get some curriculum money from my school to spend time coming up with (short) activities to “hook” or motivate my kids for each of the major topics we cover in my classes. That’s not going to be easy.
Reading Shawn and Dan just underscore something I’ve been feeling all year. I mean, I’ve felt this to some degree every year, but uber acutely this year. I became a mathteacher because I wanted to impart that feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment to my students… to show them the beauty and applicability and serious-honest-to-god-creativity that is implicit in math work… to see doing math as fun — a million little puzzles all connecting in these random and unexpected ways.
Or more succinctly: I became a math teacher because I want my kids to experience the doing of math as inherently enjoyable. So I’m asking myself: when did I lose that as a goal in my work, replaced by the singular focus on understanding? Yeah, understanding is great, but that should only be the baseline of my teaching. My standards should be higher, and getting kids who don’t enjoy math to enjoy math (not just tolerate, or be able to do, but enjoy) should be the target.
I know, I’m already feeling sheepish now that all this is typed out. All my idealism is spilling out unfiltered. And tomorrow I’ll go back to the classroom and see that my Algebra II students still don’t know why is the same as , and my calculus students still don’t know why , and I’ll remember why I have such a singular focus on understanding, jettisoning fun for more immediate concerns.
But that’s still probably not going to stop my brain to keep on going to the place it has been stuck all year… asking ad infinitum the question “when do we get to have fun?”