231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

New Teaching Methods

A few months back I was thinking about how some people (maybe myself included) pick a major in college because that's 'what they are good at.'

For instance, I was an engineering major because I was good at math and physics, and not so good at english and social studies.

So? What does that matter? At least I like math (some what) and I love physics problems. But I've met a number of people along the way that were in these programs because that's 'what they were good at' or their parents encouraged them too due to where they were excelling in high school.

I think that's completely wrong. You should do what you enjoy, what may take some time to grow into, it should be nurtured. Just because your good in math doesn't mean you'll make a good engineer, and just because you're bad in math doesn't mean you'll make a bad engineer. In the latter example, maybe you're math skills aren't so hot, but you problem solving abilities are very creative and can lead to new innovation.

Suggestion: Maybe schools (high school and/or college) could teach methods. Think about the ability to take classes in the following methods:
  • Problem Solving (engineer) (using your analytics)
  • Studying (doctors & such) (using your memory)
  • Writing/Arts (writers, photographers, artists, actors, ...) (using your creative nature)
  • ... and some others, I welcome feed back.
So rather then everybody taking the same math class, there are different spins on the class depending on your 'method' of thinking/learning. A math class for a problem solver will be very different then a math class for an artist.

I was thinking about it this way because fundamentally, I'm a problem solver, not a math person. Math comes naturally to me for my ability to solve problems and think analytically, not the other way around.

Any thoughts?

tags: education learning teaching schooling
Categories: ideas


  • At 10/10/2005 6:54 PM, Blogger Brent said…

    I wish I hadn't thrown away the notes I made one day at BTA. One of those (sleepless) nights as a first-year teacher, I came up with some way of breaking down my syllabus such that it wasn't done by the novel, which is of course based on which teacher is using which book at which time. I tried to think, in the broadest terms, of what I wanted students to get out of my class. I think some of the categories were like "Arguments," "Forms/Structures," "Evidence," maybe "Logic" or something like that. Obviously there'd be a lot of bleeding (logic in the classical sense has certain forms not shared by some kinds of poetry, for example), but I felt like that way I could move away from teaching English as a year of memorizing character names and writing (ironically endless) five-paragraph essays. If I ever get back to high-school teaching, I'm going to go through that kind of thinking, but at the time the institution was set up such that a young person has no support with which to try new things -- you're just supposed to do what the people who have been around for thirty years have been doing by rote once they "got the hang of it." You'd also have to have much smaller class size, which could be manageable if we gave up the stupid factory-line model of education: suppose you had ten students at a time, but only for 30 minutes? Or, shit, I dunno, hire more teachers? One of the endemic problems here is that the people with the passion to get their hands dirty and actually work in the trenches are NOT the ones making the institutional decisions about curricula and standards. Those people (higher-level administrators) typically are motivated by a careerist ambition, a drive to establish themselves rather than a concern with the abstract entity we refer to as "education" (if they even believe in that anymore). Something about administrating itself just does that to people, even if they get there through altruistic motives. You get to a point where the status quo starts to look pretty good.

    Everyone should stop by UW-Madison to hear me read my paper on the Bassholes on Saturday at 3 or so.


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