Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teaching Stories

We were sitting after golf and the conversation drifted around to stories about how we had learned our craft, (most of us the hard way). One of the younger teachers told this story.

He was instructing his Math 10 students in his portable on a rather stormy and rainy day. As we was laying out his solution on the board, to the problem that a number of students were having difficulty with, he said he was thinking about how easily he understood the problem and how simple the solution should have looked to his students. Now my friend said he was a young teacher at the time and he believed in strong classroom discipline and control, which meant to him, not to allow students in his class to correct the teacher.

One of his students, spoke up and said quite strongly that the solution given by the teacher was wrong. My friend said he gave the student a chance to change his mind, but the student was very strong in his assertion that the teacher was wrong. Sensing that the class was getting out of control, my friend said to the student although he was entitled to his opinion, in this case, the student had to accept the logic of the teacher as the teacher had proven the solution. The student continued to argue, so my friend said he had no choice but to put the student out of the class, to maintain order. It was raining hard, so about 20 minutes later the student knocked on the door and my friend opened the door and talked to the student, and asked him if he was willing to accept the the teachers solution was he correct one, the student refused, but since it was raining hard, my friend allowed the student to get his jacket and the student stayed outside for the period.

My friend phoned the parents of the student and talked to them about their son's disrespectful behaviour in his class. The father was quite upset with the son for his behaviour but more upset that his son had disrupted the class by knocking on the door later (The fact the son was wet and cold had no bearing on this the Dad said). The student came into class the next day and apologized to my friend.

In the Math staff room at lunch, my friend was talking about the student and one of the other Math teachers asked about the problem and what the solution my friend had suggested, my friend told her and she laughed and pointed out that my friend was wrong and the student was correct.

I asked what had reminded him of that story, my friend laughed and that he had been reminded of the incident by the same student (10 years later) as the student was a now a Science Teacher at a school in our district and he had seen him at the pub. Another of my friends said, you know that the new young Science teacher was probably telling that story to his friends but with a different perspective.

My friend said as a result of that incident he learned to accept that he was not always right, and that things we do sometimes live for a long time.

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