Saturday, August 19, 2006
I am really loving working with student teachers. It is great to be able to see all this potential from the back of the classroom. One of my students, in particular, is so exciting, because she is just so capable. I know that she is going to do well in her course, and I know that she is going to build a very productive career for herself, because she has the skills, and she makes the effort. And yet something worried me about one of the classes I sat in on last week. She did everything right according to the check list, and she had a good rapport with the kids, and it was very easy to praise, and yet something didn't ring true. She was teaching geography (map reading) to a grade 8 class, and she had these beautiful little diagrams with contour lines, and conventional symbols, and fun exercises with 3D models and coloured pencils and pieces of string, and yet all the children asked were questions like "will this be in the test?" and "could you please explain that again?" I kept waiting for someone to ask "why is it called a trig beacon?" or "why do we have spot heights?" or "why are the contour lines brown?" or anything. And then it occurred to me. The questions I was waiting for were all "why?" and no one was asking them. Kids don't know how to. They know they have to regurgitate this stuff for an exam, and they become excellent at it, but then they forget it and move on to the next exam, and they never know why. On Monday, I am going to talk to my very clever, capable student teacher about "why" questions, and get her to ask some so that the kids ask some, and hopefully in a couple of weeks when she goes back to college, and the kids go back to their former teacher, they will have taken something with them.