Yesterday’s post generated some interesting responses. There was a time when I was bothered when people didn’t post their responses on the blog, in reply to the post. But, the more I think about it, that’s so limiting. I share the announcement of my posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus so it should come as no surprise that the responses would come back in those forums in addition to private messaging and email. It’s a hoot just to think that people read it and that some take the time to send their thoughts. It’s these thoughts that make blogging rewarding – it’s nice to be agreed with – I like being disagreed with as well. You can’t hit them all out of the park.
Even more interesting happens when the responses take me somewhere that I hadn’t intended. I received some private content which I can’t share here but I did get a couple of public responses that weren’t what I had expected and pushed me to think a little more deeply about the original post and its implications.
First off, David Wees sent this message…
I was keyed to reply to this the moment that I read it but stopped before sending because I wanted to think it through. I didn’t want to seem flippant with my response and I realized that I couldn’t do that in 140 characters or less but I can via a blog post reply. I’ve taught mathematics, computer science, business, accounting, data processing, and teacher education. I’ve reported to department heads and I’ve been a department head. Never once did someone indicate that the students had to like/love the subject. But, they have to learn it in order to get the credit. So, David, my answer has to be yes, we have done our job. It doesn’t feel right to say it though.
Then, P. Tucker who I’ve never met, so I don’t know what the P stands for asks can you get good at something without liking it in some way? As I think about this question, I’m picturing the first day of school in a computer science class with students meeting me for the first time. They have no idea who I am. They don’t know what the subject is. And, every topic throughout the course will be something so new and obscure that they have no idea to even form an opinion. I think back to my days as a student in a computer science classroom when we were first introduced to the concept of arrays. I didn’t get it. It was so abstract. With the examples that the teacher was giving us, I wondered, why couldn’t we just define some more integers or real numbers and get things done the way that we’ve always done? For the longest time, I didn’t get it – I certainly didn’t like it but I got to be really good at it. I think that the point here is that you can get good at something without necessarily liking it.
Fortunately, I firmly believe that most teachers won’t settle for the answers above. We know that there is that something extra that puts students over the top. In my computer science classroom, I would bring in old copies of computing journals and students would read them before and after school, at lunch, and during class. Yes, there were some who just wanted to get the problems done and move on. But, there were those students who would take the requirements for a problem and see what more they could do. They would push themselves and absolutely liked the subject material. It was their passion for learning the topic that pushed them to greater accomplishments. As a teacher, you feel extra special when that happens.
So, thanks David and P. for pushing my thinking on this.
What do you think? Would you answer their questions the same way that I did?