Friday, August 21, 2009

Back in Class

(Yes, the image is Chemistry and the instructor is way better looking.) The students are beginning to arrive on campus and one can feel that sense of excitement. Parents with smiling kids take turns before digital cameras capturing images of the thrill of fresh high school graduates brimming with the sense of possibility and unprecedented freedom from mom and dad. I didn't last six weeks on campus before finding myself talking to the math department.

I happily accepted a late afternoon course with about 35 students, the college algebra that every student must pass to graduate. Sadly, few freshmen have high school backgrounds with adequate math, so the course is always a challenge, but that's where the course leader concept proves most rewarding. Anyone can teach already motivated geniuses.

I've already written about course leading versus teaching. Leading a course involves managing the entire set of interactions, which makes it possible to reach and motivate the frightened and semi-angry through terrain they resist. It is a completely different conversation. The math is there, but it's not about the math. The only thing that beats the flashing bulbs is the enthusiasm and gratitude they have at the end, and best of all, the implicit satisfaction of having contributed and made a real difference. Almost without exception and especially with this course, when they experience the flashes as designed, the participants truly get that they can in fact grasp what they considered beyond them. It changes everything.


Blogger The Navigator said...

Good for you, and good luck. I would love to be a fly on the wall and watch the process.

I would love to see the expressions on their faces when you "go meta" or stop and react to a facial expression instead of being the typical unconnected instructor.

8/22/2009 12:25 PM  
Anonymous bernmeister said...

i would love to audit this class!

8/22/2009 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A "course leader"?

Are you Landmark?

Do the students open up about their parents as they face their fear of variables?

8/22/2009 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

Speaking of reacting to a facial expression: see "The Class", it will satisfy your voieurisme

8/23/2009 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The anon above is completely clueless.

8/23/2009 5:52 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Yes, the anon(9:54) has no idea.

Mariana, who are you addressing? What voyeurism?

8/23/2009 7:02 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

My daughter Ashley really enjoyed being taught by you. You two always seemed to be having fun and over math! It was fun watching you two work. We miss having you here. Debi

8/24/2009 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

This is Tucson's loss and Kentucky's gain. Those greedy F-heads at TREO have no idea what they destroyed when they stole SAIAT's funding.

Not that scum like that care about destroying great programs. Joe Snell never saw a dollar he didn't want to steal.

8/24/2009 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

Nav, voyeurism doesn't necessarily have a sexual connotation. Being a fly on the wall qualifies, as does the French movie "The Class" (real reality show about course leading and teaching, worth watching)

8/24/2009 5:18 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

I didn't know you read this!

With respect to helping Ashley, the pleasure was mine. She's a terrific kid. Say Hi to the family.

Observer is right about TREO and Snell. After TREO destroyed SAIAT, Raytheon spent millions to build an almost exact replacement. Now the rest of Tucson goes without.

8/24/2009 5:30 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

x4mr, fam says hi back. I believe it was "The Associate" who recommended I read "Something else", Since they had a bit part in it. Last time I dropped by your site was before you left. Take care!

8/24/2009 10:20 PM  

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