Threatening them with a good time

I am terrible at moderation. Terrible.

I’m not sure I even want to be good at moderating.

When I find something I like, I indulge until there is no more.

An example: I tried to make a little geometric art with a compass and straightedge. The next day I was investing too much money and all of my time in compasses, pencils, fancy markers, watercolor paints, brushes…etc. I barely slept for weeks obsessed with making increasingly complex designs.

I teach at a public alternative school. A school where many of my students have struggled with some type of addiction and/or anxiety. My students also struggle with moderation. Impulse control is a challenge for teens because it is a part of a developing teen brain. How can I use this to my advantage?

Why do I need to give them headaches and aspirin in order to generate student buy-in to learning mathematics?

Why not instead make learning math so satisfying that we all want more? Like my experience with Islamic geometric design? Let’s find ways to give learners and their teachers so much satisfaction in making connections and understanding that we all want more.

I propose that we shift our thinking away from, “If Math Is The Aspirin, Then How Do You Create The Headache?” and move towards, “If making connections and discovering is exciting that how do you maximize these opportunities for learners to get them hooked?”

I know it is possible. I have experienced it with my students.

I want to shift perspectives on teaching and learning from headaches and aspirin to connections, discoveries, beauty and excitement.

I need to remember to always invest the time and effort in finding the beauty in a concept for myself and then develop my lessons from this perspective.


3 thoughts on “Threatening them with a good time

  1. When education is already a headache … granted, the goal of “making everything fun all the time” isn’t so great, either, but the idea that something can be satisfying, so it’s worth mucking around with and even “working” at it… that’s utterly worthwhile.

  2. Why do I need to give them headaches and aspirin in order to generate student buy-in to learning mathematics?

    My hope is that students will understand:
    a) the connection between old ideas and new ideas, so they create strong networks of a few large ideas, rather than weak networks between lots of small ideas;
    b) the fact that new ideas came from somewhere beyond the teacher’s assigned pacing guide, that we invented them for a reason.
    Those goals don’t seem to preclude “discoveries, beauty and excitement.” I just don’t know how to design for those nouns. Perhaps you can elaborate on your strategies for designing intentionally towards those goals for a given objective.

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