Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer School - Day Seven - Questions, Questions

I have 5 students out of a class of about 20 that actually ask me questions in class. Most of these questions are of the "Am I doing this right?" variety. No one else bothers. And this is not a class of stellar mathematicians.

One of the 5 is that persistent, pestering type that wants help on every detail and every step. He really doesn't want to know the reasons why. He just wants me to tell him the proper steps. If I try to explain the reasoning instead, he interrupts me with statements like "So, then I do this or that?" Inevitably he is wrong, because he isn't listening to the amazing math reasoning pouring forth from my mouth.

I've been thinking about being less helpful to my students. The problem is, in this case, with so little time in summer school and students who are not really motivated to learn but just want to get through and pass, being less helpful basically severs the lifeline they are clinging to. They are drowning in a sea of indecipherable math and are grasping at any floating object that might drift by.

I am getting really tired of standing in front of a class and talking. I get so frustrated trying to explain deep concepts when all they want is procedures that get the right answer. But if I stop throwing floating objects, they drown.


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