Some kids can figure out calculus or computer problems because they study a lot. The may not feel they have an aptitude but they get by because they spend a lot of time working on the problem and eventually figure it out. Other kids, can get by without studying much. Perhaps its because of previous experience. Perhaps they’re “smarter”. Perhaps it’s because they are more natural at figuring certain problems out. Other kids can figure problems out because they work in groups and learn rapidly from their friends.
In these discussions my friends often thought that one of these styles was at a higher status. For instance if there is a prize to be won, most believed that the one that studied a lot and work hard is more deserving of the prize.
I generally disagree with that opinion. I won’t say my view is the only valid one but here’s some food for thought.
In grade 11 or so, I had this teacher named Adamson.
He used to always refer to test results, a particular problem or assignment with the following:
Some people get it and some people don’t. Nobody knows why though. — Bill Adamson
This could seem puzzling at face value. I can assure you, that anybody who had him as a teacher as I did will remember those words as they ring through their mind today.
The hidden message that used to strike me when he said this is that there is no correct way to perform. All the ways are valid and you have to figure out which one will work for you.
He’s opening up a space for you to figure out how to do it. So if he is discussing a Calculus test those in the classroom who could do better are not being judged. They’re not being told to be smarter, work harder or seek help. They’re being told to do what they need to do and it’s different for every person.
I wonder if there is anybody out there who remembers Bill Adamson of KDHS from my brief stint in Ontario when I was a teenager. What do they think of Mr. Adamson’s quote?
Either way, here’s another teacher that makes an open space for learners to figure out themselves how to think and solve problems.