Wednesday, September 19, 2007

my day job

School has been a cruel master lately.

I don't think I was cut out for this job. I do really believe that mathematics is worthwhile. It is a practical necessity for some jobs in the modern world, and it is a beautiful thing in its own right. I really do believe that every kid I come across can benefit from a little math. And yet... I feel that I am often at cross-purposes with my students, who come to me for test scores and good grades and college acceptances, and rarely for math.

I feel like there is a fundamental flaw in this system of making kids learn math. We tell them they need to learn math and they do not believe us. Obviously a math teacher needs math everyday. You've chosen a stupid job, that's not my problem. I'm going to be a fashion designer, I won't need math. I'm going to be an artist, I won't need math. I'm going into business, I won't need math.

There is an artificial demand for math. When a person aspires to something which they realize demands math (and not just math grades or math classes) the teaching and learning is smooth and enjoyable and amazing. I have seen it. I have seen that sort of interest and determination that transcends class credits and points on tests. But rarely. Most students, and I myself have occasionally done this, settle into the role of a blindly trudging, artless mercenary.

Unfortunately, by the time the student acknowledges a necessity for math, their only hope of success seems to depend upon how far they were dragged along unwillingly during the years preceding their epiphany. And I guess that's where I come in.

Dejectedly and contentedly, and with a scrap of renewed purpose, I suppose that I have always really put myself here to sell a bit of vision, or maybe soften the soil for it. Time will tell if I can make a living on that.

1 comment:

  1. Chin up!! You're only required to prepare the ground for the seed and plant it the best you know how. There will be many who will never do algebra and calculus outside your class...others may belatedly catch a vision of the beauty of this discipline, even if only from afar. I know because I'm one of those.