Let's use our imagination a bit. Picture yourself in math class (Algebra I to be exact), minding your own business, having fun playing with the axioms (aka rules) of algebra, and then one day your teacher drops this bomb on you:
And you might be thinking, "woah now, where did come from?"
It makes sense that this would shock you. You were just getting used to the idea of expanding 3(x-1), and you probably would have been fine with x+3(x-1), but (x+3)(x-1) is a foreign idea all together.
Well, before you have much time to think about it on your own and discover anything interesting, your teacher will probably tell you that even though you don't know how to solve it now, there is a "super helpful", magical technique that will help you…
For those of you lucky enough never to have heard of FOIL, I will explain. FOIL stands for First Outside Inside Last and is a common mnemonic...
What will life be like 100 years from now? How foolish will we feel for our linear factory style education system? Any 2111 historian will understand our flawed education system was merely the bi-product of industrialization, but surely they will wonder why it took us so long to change. It would be tough to explain to a future human species why we treated our young so poorly. Perhaps there will be a movement similar to the one for civil writes or women empowerment. Perhaps it will be kids themselves that lead this movement, tired of being told what to do, tired of having their wants, needs, desires, passions, and humanity stepped-on by a system that forces adults to bore them. Perhaps the revolution will be led by teachers who understand that there is more to life than memorizing the Pythagorean theorem or being able to regurgitate dates for a test designed to rank students as if one human being was really better than another; as if a number or a letter could define a person; as if...
School aims to prepare us with a tool bag of "useful" skills. Whether it actually does this is a whole different post. But let us say that for sake of an argument, school does manage to bequeath literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, math skills, etc. as tools for students to use. If indeed school does manage to do all these things, I must make an argument here that those skills are of secondary importance. Tools are useless without a vision. Life is pointless without a dream, a personal destiny, or a worthy cause.
What if, instead of teaching kids a set group of skills, schools were a platform for students to find their callings in life? What if schools were then structured to react and sequentially supply actually relevant tools for their students life goals?
I know what you might say, "but I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life until I was [enter age], so how do you expect a kid to decide? Plus they will probably change their mind 5 times and...
The secret to being a great teacher is quite simple. Be a student.
The best teachers are not those who believe they know everything, but those that are continually learning. This is because learning affects you in so many positive ways. Teachers that continue to function as students tend to keep their passion for their subject burning within them. As anyone who ever has had a passionate teacher can attest, even if you hate the subject, watching their enthusiasm can inspire you to at least try whatever it is they are doing.
Teachers who continue to learn don't fall behind in current events on their subject. For my subject specifically, mathematics, it seems that everyone only knows the name of a few ancient Greeks as if they were the only ones who studied math. But really, there is new understandable math being created every day. Getting a twitter to find and follow mathematicians and teachers was probably one of the best decisions I could have made. It has kept me very up to...