Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why do we do this to students?

Recently, via twitter @stevenstrogatz, I stumbled across this tweet.

Intrigued, I went to the link and found a math dissertation. I typically don't read math dissertations - for obvious reasons. But I started reading the prologue. The first paragraph starts thusly:

Respected research math is dominated by men of a certain attitude. Even allowing for individual variation, there is still a tendency towards an oppressive atmosphere . . .

The second paragraph starts with this sentence:

I’m unwilling to pretend that all manner of ways of thinking are equally encouraged, or that there aren’t very real issues of lack of diversity.

Clearly this is a bright student. She is, after all, submitting her dissertation at Princeton University in the Department of Mathematics. Yet, in her prologue to her dissertation she voices emotions that those of us in education should find unacceptable. 

Schools, places where we send our children and where we welcome the children of our friends and neighbors, should not be "oppressive" or places where thinking differently is not encouraged.

As I read the prologue I began to wonder what the students in my school district would say about the classrooms in my district. Are my students welcomed? Are my students encouraged to think differently? Do we embrace diversity in people, in thought, in action?

Today I was in an elementary building and I visited five first grade classrooms. In each classroom a math lesson was in progress. In each classroom I saw teachers who encouraged students to explain their thinking, to discuss various approaches to solving problems, and to listen and learn from each other. 

I saw classrooms that made a positive difference.

Those of us who work in schools, who lead schools, who want they best for our children and every child, should take responsibility and ensure that we build the schools that we know our children need.

1 comment:

  1. Math is one of the interesting subjects and some reasons you give in this article is valid and weightier. This is the subject of the bright students and they can manage the formulas with a good way. I like your sense with professional papers written that you display this article with a good way.