I have been wanting to talk about this for a few months but have only just got around to it now. It was a conversation I had with one of my students whilst he was attempting some difficult questions in class and having little success with them. He had asked for help and I had provided some assistance with the question, however the conversation quickly turned to him wanting me to show him how to do it. It would seem to be quite a reasonable request but I knew that if I did, I would be taking the learning away from him, it was just a question that he had tried and failed a few times and he didn't want to think about it any more. The assistance he was given was enough to get him started, but not enough to show him what he should be doing. This is where he said to me
"This class is pointless, you don't teach us anything, you just make us learn"
It was said in a way that I think was supposed to make me feel somewhat bad about what I was doing, that by not showing exactly how to solve the question he believed I was being a bad teacher and I should feel bad about that. However the comment had quite the opposite effect on me. It made me more convinced that I was on the right path with them. As I said to him at the time, I believe that it is one of the most positive things anyone has ever said about my teaching.
I think in that moment he had recognised that the schooling process was not about me as the teacher anymore, I was not the central person in the process. He discovered that he was the person central to his learning, it is only my role to be there to support that learning. I have been making a very conscious effort to support productive struggle in my class, to not jump in and save them at the first sign of struggle, to let them to continue to think about it and to try new things to work with others. This comment I believe was a clear indication that I am on the right track.
Senior Leader of Pedagogical Innovation and Mathematics Coordinator in Regional South Australia.
Opinions in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.