(Originally published on the Math Reasoning Web site . Republished here with permission from the author, Vern Williams.)
A very short story by Vern Williams. One night I walked into the 4 3/8 dimension and actually believed the following:
- We should write about math but never do math.
- Correcting students' papers using red ink is a threat to children's self esteem and that red pens should be banned from all public schools.
- Howard Gardner was right about his multiple intelligence theory (I think that he claims about nine at the moment) and that schools should value bodily-kinesthetic ability and the intelligence of self as much as mathematical and linguistic ability.
- The war on intellectual excellence is a great thing. It will make us all equal.
- Teachers Unions are actually concerned about students.
- Advanced courses and gifted programs should be banned because they are elitist and unfair. Since everyone is gifted in their own way (see Howard Gardner), why have special gifted programs?
- There are no bored students in US public schools.
- We can teach thinking even when there is no content to think about.
- We should treat members of politically protected minority groups as victims.
- We should never view our students as individuals but as members of racial and ethnic groups.
- We should buy into the latest educational fad even if it's based on political correctness and has nothing to do with learning or common sense.
- There is no money wasted on administration, specialists, and useless programs. In fact, we should have more of each.
- I should join the NCTM.
- I should join the NEA.
- I should feel guilty because I teach smart kids.
- I should feel really guilty because I enjoy teaching smart kids.
- Don't review last year's material for the first two months of school.
- Give us a few hard problems instead of a bunch of easy ones.
- Stop assigning so many projects especially when routine content is involved.
- Recognize our creativity and higher level thinking skills. Stop judging us only on the ability to follow directions.
- Don't take it personally when your lesson doesn't interest us.
- Find new, difficult, strange, and exciting content and teach it to us. We will make the mental leaps and provide our own extensions. Just teach us some real content.
- Please provide us with teachers who truly know their content and who love their subject area.
- Please appreciate and relate to our sense of humor.
- Allow us to challenge our teachers as long as there is no disrespect intended.
- Provide us with teachers who have the confidence to accept our academic challenges and treat them as a positive.
- Please note that some of us love learning but hate school. Try to understand why or just ask us.
- Please take us out of groups of four. When two of the four of us cooperate and do all of the work, it's not cooperative learning.
- Allow us to help you teach and offer clever alternative solutions but please, you be the teacher. Don't be the guide on the side. Teach us!
- Know when going off on a tangent is a good thing.
- Know your content well enough so that if we ask an intriguing question, you might change your lesson plan on the spot.
- Don't make us waste our time reading in English class while the teacher is checking e-mail. We read all the time outside of school and we would much rather spend our time analyzing, debating, and learning.
- Please provide us with teachers who are not jealous of our exceptional intellect.
- Provide us with teachers who enjoy teaching GT students including the quirky disorganized but brilliant ones who most teachers write off.
- The teacher should not be the center of the universe.
- There should be an overreaching theme or concept.
- The lesson should be interdisciplinary and real world applications should be involved.
Vern Williams is a math teacher at Longfellow Middle School, Fairfax, VA. In addition to teaching Honors Math to students in the Gifted Talented Center program, he teaches algebra/geometry in a one-year, two-credit course he developed. He also offers math reasoning courses and math enrichment during the summer months and during the school year. He was named to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in 2006. On March 27, 2011, he published a brief commentary for the New York Times titled "Let us Teach!"
For more about Vern Williams, see his Web site:
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