More Thoughts on Dan Meyer’s Innovative Math Curriculum…

Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 18-05-2010

Yesterday I posted a rant on paper, and mentioned Dan’s TED talk about being “less helpful” when teaching Math.  He mentions that if we let kids do the figuring out for themselves, they will get more out of it.  (Seems elementary to me…)

I recently started reading Lenore Skenazy’s blog (You may remember her as the Mom who was plastered all over the news for letting her child successfully ride the subway by himself).  I love her Free-Range approach, and while I’m not quite ready to fully let go of the shackles of fear for my child’s safety (I’m trying, Lenore!), she does make some good points.

I read this article in Salon about the “blandifying” of playgrounds, and I think the concept applies to teaching as well:

“Children rise to risk,” says Joan Almon, executive director of the U.S. Alliance for Childhood. “Give them some genuine risk and they quickly learn what their limits are, and then they expand their limits.” The problem is: If kids never encounter even tiny risks, they never develop that thing we call common sense.

This is essentially what Dan Meyer was saying. If we never give kids the chance to figure things out on their own, they will never take the initiative to do so!  We wonder why kids are so “helpless” these days, why we have to spoonfeed them everything.  BECAUSE WE MADE THEM THIS WAY!  

Stop, right now, spoonfeeding your students.  There will be an adjustment period, but they will eventually get it.  They will learn, if we let them.

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