“Real world” and “authentic” are two of many educational buzzwords overused right now. What if instead of making sure that everything has a truly “real” context we give students a creative opportunity to explore the “unreal.”
The inspiration for this post comes from a new blog by Randall Munroe, author of xkcd, called What If?. In this blog he answers hypothetical questions by doing the actual math to answer them. So far he has shown things such as how much force does Yoda have? and what would happen if you gathered a mole (unit of measurement) of moles (the small furry creature) in one place? These questions are not real or authentic but the math and science is.
But these questions are fun and interesting! Students love to talk about fantasy and science fiction such as zombies and vampires.
So why not expose your students to a few of these kind of questions and have them try to “prove” their answer. Afterwards show them what Randall Munroe came up with. Then have students come up with their own questions and write out their reasoning and solutions. This activity would tap into their creativity but also demonstrate their mathematical computations and more importantly their mathematical reasoning. It also would be a literacy task in math. Finally and most important in my opinion it may also be an avenue to engage a student’s passions in math class that Jeff de Varona has been asking about.
I read this post
at the Cooperative Catalyst by Educational Revolutionist and left the following comment:
I think you are confusing two separate issues: unions and learning. The purpose of unions is to protect the rights of workers in regards to wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. Union dues are paid by teachers to protect their rights and wages. Unions are not directly designed to promote learning or guarantee student rights. Unions are part of the democratic “checks and balances” against big business. Review the history of Carnegie and other robber barons. Sure they donated lots of money to libraries to and created education institutions. Sounds alot like Gates, Broad, and crew to me.
But as Mary Beth has pointed out, positive working conditions and benefits leads (but does not guarantee I admit) to better learning situations for students. These benefits lead to more qualified teachers entering and staying in the field. Other rights such as planning time lead to better learning opportunities. As my dad always quoted a friend who owned a used construction equipment business said, “I can’t afford a $7/hour mechanic. I need a $20/hour mechanic.”
Unions do fight for more funds for education all of the time. Are they self-interested? Sure, but the money goes to many things in schools also.
Lastly, I agree it would be incredible if teachers would rally, protest, and boycott against NCLB, RTTT, and standardized testing too.
BTW “Get up, Stand up” by Marley came up on my Itunes shuffle as I wrote this. #karma