kitchen table math, the sequel: teaching is good for the teacher, part 2

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

teaching is good for the teacher, part 2

Tex left this comment:

I was pleased to read your positive comments on how tutoring benefits the teacher because of my teenage son’s current paid job tutoring a classmate.

When he first proposed this tutoring job I had mixed emotions about it. For some of the reasons AndyJoy listed in his comments on Rory’s post on peer tutoring.

This week the high school kids are taking mid-term tests. My son, as usual, seems to be spending very little time “hitting the books”. However, he has been tutoring every day.

He keeps telling me that tutoring helps him with his tests. He loves it because he feels he’s being paid to study!

After reading your post, I have come to believe a big benefit is he’s “developing and refining his schema”. This is especially relevant because he is often viewed as a walking encyclopedia.

(Also, it doesn’t hurt that his tutee is a very cute female. This leads my husband to conclude that there is a whole other set of benefits to this arrangement. lol!)

I was fascinated to see a teenager being self-reflective enough to perceive the benefits of teaching to the teacher.

It'll be interesting living with a typical teen. (Typical as opposed to atypical for people new to the blog. Jimmy, who has autism, is 20.)

I'm starting to look forward to it.


Catherine Johnson said...

I've just read Tex's comment closely - I'd missed the line about her son being viewed as a "walking encyclopedia."

The "invisible" part of knowledge is the structure or schema - and that's the hard part.

Hirsch's books, unfortunately, leave readers with the impression that knowledge = facts.

He doesn't say that, but my sense is that he hasn't fully thought through the implications of "situation models," "schemas" and the like.

This is yet another area where constructivists aren't wrong and yet don't manage to be right.

"Making connections" is another way of saying "refining and developing one's schema."

But "making connections" is a poor way of saying it, because it implies that all connections are equal.

They aren't.

It's extremely difficult to "connect the dots."

Which dots?

Connected where?

Catherine Johnson said...

I think one of the problems with constructivism is that it's always ideological, moral, high-toned.

If you just stuck with the idea of the schema, as Daniel Willingham does, and focused on how to develop and teach schemas to children, you'd get somewhere.

Instead "making connections" gets conflated with "everyone is equal" and you end up with the radical egalitarianism that characterizes all constructivist books.

More than one way to solve a problem!

Catherine Johnson said...

Saxon Math is all about developing and directly teaching a schema to students.

But no one sees this, including fans of the series.

People who like Saxon Math like it because it's "traditional."

But it's not.

The content is traditional, but the pedagogy is not.

Saxon Math engages in direct, overt, and conscious discussion and teaching of a schema (or schemas).

I've never seen anything like it.

I would argue that the Saxon Math books may be more innovative and original than the Singapore series.

Tex said...

If my son ever heard anyone call him “reflective” he’d cringe. But his words sometimes belie his image of himself.

Tex said...

“The content is traditional, but the pedagogy is not.

Saxon Math engages in direct, overt, and conscious discussion and teaching of a schema (or schemas).”

This is good to hear because it counters the argument that we just want to go back to the good ole days that never existed.

Tracy said...

I used to volunteer tutor maths as a teenager (it was a scheme run by the 7th formers at my high school - unfortunately this being a single-sex girls school I didn't get any cute guys to tutor).

It did help me really understand maths. I'm not sure how much my tutees benefited.