Yesterday was another one of the maths conferences run by La Salle education and it was a great event – loads of enthusiastic fellow teachers discussing and sharing ideas. It’s great to meet up with people from twitter and meet with friends … old and new (as always with these things I’m sad not to have said hello to everyone I wanted to … **waves**). The fact that people are willing to share and support others is exactly what makes me excited about teaching (the sessions I went to were brilliant!) … I genuinely believe that every teacher, everywhere is doing what they think is the right thing and doing stuff for the best outcomes – after all no one gets up in the morning and thinks: “today I’m going to be sh1t, today I am going to ruin a child’s life chances” … we all want the same thing. I just hope that the DFE take notice of the fact that there were 100’s of maths teachers giving up a Saturday to learn new stuff and share ideas.
The following probably sounds silly to most of you but it struck a chord with me when Mark McCourt asked if anyone had actually read the research about the Ebbinghaus “forgetting curve” which is often quoted in education (I haven’t read it!)– was how blindly we believe people in positions of authority/responsibility. This is aimed at no one else but myself and I know that I question lots of things but I feel that I need to do it more and that is where I’m in a quandary and find myself supporting Tom Bennetts movement for our education to be based on quality research but I’m so conscious that what works for me may not work for others. My concern is that we end up cherry picking isolated “successful” elements and don’t take to heart the fact that what works in one case is NOT JUST ONE THING but a whole series of strategies, policies etc. It is just too easy to come to the conclusion that correlation implies causation but I suppose the fact that I am aware of this as a possibility means that it is less likely to happen (?).
This thought has implications to me as I want to make it clear that when I question stuff on this blog it is not in any way, shape or form meant to be negative. I want to have a dialogue about the issues – to question my ideas, my values and also my opinion. I am not a negative person (I’m actually quite laid back and positive) and I don’t want people to think that I am a negferret … after all I am just an ordinary teacher who writes a little blog and makes a few worksheets and “stuff” and so I’d say that anything that works for me, does so in my context.
The fact that so many teachers are excited about sharing ideas and what works for them is one of the things that I love about my job. When we are teaching we are passing on a legacy – a legacy of knowledge that has been discovered, refined and communicated from our forefathers (and fore-mothers!). It’s an inheritance of sorts. Events like yesterdays give us the opportunity to take ideas, tweak them and refine them but unlike Mathematics where there is often a “solution” teaching isn’t so black and white …
So thank you Mark for challenging me and making me think!
I must mention the Friday night crew (including loads more that didn’t have these t shirts) who made the weekend … you are all special people (except Rob who is Superman!). Being called “utterly bonkers” has made me chuckle this morning but also made me think about next time bringing “serious Mel” who gets the work done and takes what she does VERY VERY SERIOUSLY. I’m even thinking about attending the next event incognito – not sure how that will work with “the t-shirts”. I may sport a moustache!
PS: Despite me introducing myself as “my names Mel and I’m an alcoholic” … I am not! I’ve just always wanted to say that when introducing myself and it was never right to do so in the corporate world. For the record Friday was the first time I’ve had any alcohol since New Years Eve!!
PPS: The only downside was rushing to get there and not being sure where I’d parked my car. So much so that when I was leaving it took me an hour to find my car. I ended up walking up and down a SEVEN storey car-park twice (carrying two heavy bags … I hurt this morning!!), panicking that maybe I was in the wrong car-park or maybe my car had been stolen! After a call to NCP and my hubbie who calmed me down I eventually did the walk from the bottom floor in a calm and thorough manner until I found it! I blame my addled brain!
Reference: “Mathematical Education”, Benchara Branford, first published in 1908.