Learning for a Lifetime

You’ve heard the Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

You’ve also heard said about someone who gives too much information: Ask her what time it is and she’ll tell you how to build a clock.

(Or maybe you haven’t; my attempts to Google exactly how to say the latter phrase were mostly unsuccessful.)


I recently received an email from a parent.

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What a gift for a student to recognize the value of understanding formulas instead of just memorizing them.


Several years ago, another student wrote “In middle school, I hated math, but having Mrs. Wilson for geometry changed that. She never just tells her students a formula to memorize or a method to apply to problems. Instead, her students discover the mathematic truths for themselves through classroom discussion and individual exploration, making math a story and a compelling one at that.”


I want to think that I’m providing my students the opportunity to learn how to learn for a lifetime: we explore dynamic figures using technology, ask questions, make conjectures, build arguments, prove conjectures.


But how many of them feel like I’m making them “build a clock”?

How many of them prefer “Tell, Don’t Ask” to “Ask, Don’t Tell”?


“Many times I grew extremely frustrated during class and wanted to just give up. Though Mrs. Wilson’s expectations are unwavering, her willingness to help her students in any way made us able to meet her expectations, though not without hard work and a healthy dose of frustration.”


I have some students who love the challenge, others who are willing persevere through it whether they like it or not, and others who roll their eyes, waiting to be told.

So I wonder: How might we provide #SlowMath learning opportunities for our students that sustain them for longer than the next test yet don’t make them feel like they’re being told how to build a clock they don’t care about building?

How might we create and foster a culture of learning in our classrooms, among our students, that will last long after they take our final exam?

We’ve got plenty to work on, as the journey continues …


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