Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Forceful Teaching

The problem with #MTBoS30, aside from that every day could be my last, is that is in May, which includes May 4, which necessitates a Star Wars post. Yes, every other #MTBoS30 post today could be technically wrong.

1) David Coffey, famous starter of mathmemes that invariably suck me in, started a SW mathematical practices meme. I can't remember which of these were his or mine.

2) Star Wars and math teaching.

There's Dan's famous explanation of Three Acts Lessons in terms of Star Wars. Or the twitter discussions of Obi Wan as a teacher.

Frankly, Harry Potter is a much better context for teaching discussions. Umbridge, Dumbledore, Defense against the Dark Arts...? Come on!

Obi Wan just does not have much time teaching. Basically he's the one who gets to make the pitch. "There's this amazing thing! You, too, can experience it! And you have the talent for it because of genetics!"

Yoda we can talk about. Even though he gets to teach one-on-one, and literally have the student move in with him...

If I'm talking about teaching, it starts with Cambourne's conditions of learning. (Also introduced to me by Dave Coffey. Great to have a colleague like that.)

 So Yoda...
  • Engagement: Luke definitely sees himself as a force user, Jedi skills will further his purposes, and he trusts Yoda to some extent that the environment is safe. (Vision tree.)
  • Immersion: not many Jedi's left, but Yoda seems to try to communicate Jedi culture.
  • Responsibility: I don't know. It seems like Yoda sets the agenda.
  • Employment: most of the teaching we say is Luke trying to use the force to do things.
  • Approximation: Yoda is a pretty harsh critic. When Luke fails Yoda jumps straight to the idea that Luke can not do it, he is too old or impatient or like his father.
  • Demonstration: Yoda does as needed. (X-Wing.)
  • Expectations: Despite his negative feedback, Yoda definitely sees Luke as a potential Jedi.
  • Response: see approximation.
All in all, Yoda does pretty well by this measure. Let's mark him exceeds expectations and slot him for a pay increase if there's a budget for that.

In The Force Awakens, Rey seems to be learning directly from the force. In a way, that's what we want math learners to do. But this contrasts with our content standards that cover  500 years or more of math history.  So we compromise, hoping for little bits of discovery on topics we choose. But maybe they can still learn the ways of math and become powerful in understanding.

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