So here goes….
I don’t think that I have ever directly published work for an external audience so with trepidation here goes.
I enjoyed both. They made me think. They made me react. At times with a sage nod, at other times with more of a ‘not sure life is like that’.
My strongest reaction – which I will say and then get over quickly – was that both pieces, especially the RSA presentation, were focused on education in developed countries. The dream of any mass, free education being just that for many across the world. This left me with the ambition to focus on improving rather than just condemning our current system.
The biggest take aways for me were ones common to both pieces. The argument that children come to be educated with a sense of creativity and innovative thought. The sense that clumsy teaching and ‘of-their-time’ educational systems* drive this out with education and (in the case of Boaler’s article) maths’ teaching becoming an accumulation of knowledge for ends which no-one particularly understands.
The prescription for change that I take from these pieces is:
- nurture learning rather than impose education
- interest students in the ‘why’ and the ‘what if’ not just the ‘what’ (will there be time to have a lesson or two devoted to showing films or considering inspiring mathematicians?**)
- invest lesson time in problem solving, and value collaboration, rather than structuring teaching around accumulating and applying individual knowledge
I also loved the idea of maths course work which – to my mind – gives scope for many of Boaler’s and Robinson’s ideas. I was left wondering, again, if there would be the opportunity to build this method of learning into my career even if it won’t be assessed.
The other thought that came to me, prompted by this material, was taking time to properly introduce and induct classes into the year’s/term’s maths study. Seeking to explain the reasons behind the curriculum so that students are aware of what is coming. I’d hope that this would bring a completer understanding of maths to students rather than simply trusting that the trip – that I may in time be taking them on – will make sense at the end when (if) they stop to look at the album of pictures.
*I don’t have sufficient knowledge to judge how much the structure of the system overrides the ability of the teachers to support best learning practice, as set out by two commentators, and how much a good teacher can choose to bring these methods into their teaching. One to keep considering.
** I paused at this point in my reading of the article. I haven’t seen the film about Fermat’s Theorem, and know little of modern mathematicians (so need to investigate these further) but I have a nagging worry that material aimed at inspiring could, if not delivered well, end up making the world of mathematics feel a long way from the world of many students. This doesn’t mean not to try but the pathways and the bridges between worlds need to be sketched in too.