I envision a school culture in which curiosity and exploration are not only supported, but are cultivated. A student who arrives to school brimming over with youthful enthusiasm for new ideas and information are received as a gift and not as a challenge or a puzzle. Students who are able to take learning in a direction of their own, outside the bounds of what the teacher has prescribed in the assignment or activity, are to be encouraged and applauded. Students who are not yet able to define their own independent roadmaps are to be supported in a learning process toward the creation of their own unique paths to learning.
It is my experience that no two individuals, and similarly no two groups of students learn in the same way. If a classroom functions the same way with multiple classes it is likely that the teacher is defining the direction with little input from student thinking or creativity. Without opportunities to experience the ways in which their unique ideas influence the trajectory of the learning students feel, and will become, powerless to learn independently. They have little opportunity to experience the value of their own ideas, and instead they learn to model themselves after the teacher. Student learning will reflect and replicate the teacher’s way of thinking about the topic, and students’ ability to think creatively and independently will be steadily eroded.
My next few blog posts will be focused on my most successful strategies for cultivating curiosity and independence in mathematics learning, as well as ramifications of holding the above described philosophy. (For example: The need for comfort with being unable to predict the direction a particular class may take.)