Today I had the opportunity to sit in on a Trig class as part of a pilot program called Teaching Squares. (I have also previously visited an astronomy and zoology class.) While sitting in this class, the following happened:
1. I realized (reaffirmed is more accurate, but go with me here) that math beyond algebra is definitely not my thing. Not only did I have no idea what was going on, but I also didn’t care. It was especially apparent because the astronomy teacher (who was also visiting the class) was super into it and solving problems with the class, and I was just sitting there having flashbacks to when I took pre-calc in undergrad and trig in high school.
2. I loved my undergrad experience, but I really wish I had known more about community colleges and/or that dual enrollment was available when I was a senior. Taking a required math class that I had no interest in would have been SO MUCH better in a small class of ~25 students than the lecture hall experience I had.
3. This experience, along with a chat I had with my students a couple of days ago, reminded me how little effort I put into classes that I didn’t care about or knew I just needed to satisfy a gen ed credit. It gave me a little more compassion/empathy for my students who are doing the bare minimum to get by.
4. Visiting the math class after visiting the astronomy and zoology class also reminded me that I could and would be engaged in a class that is not in my area at all as long as I’m willing to listen. Like I said, I tuned out most of the math stuff (this is not the instructor’s fault–part of it is that it’s the end of the semester, so I didn’t have the refresher of some of the foundational stuff I needed to follow along; also, to be fair, I did learn some stuff) but I did learn some things. Same with the zoology and astronomy stuff.
Time for another link round-up! Here are some interesting things I read this week:
Zetta Elliot has a comprehensive list of 2016 MG & YA titles by African-Americans.
I recently finished J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter & the Cursed Child and then went online and read some reviews (as one does). And I saw an alarming pattern in quite a few of the reviews I read.
Therefore, I have a request:
Please, please, please, please, PLEASE stop telling your students that plays are meant to be seen and not read.
First of all, it’s not true.
Second of all, they then go out into the world and keep spreading that nonsense in book reviews and blog posts and however else they share information with each other.
Here’s the thing: plays are absolutely meant to be read. They start out as scripts. Plays cannot be produced, acted in, directed, costumed, lit, etc. unless the people involved with the plays READ THEM.
In fact, reading a play takes just as much–if not more–imagination as reading a novel or short story. It’s all about teaching students how to read and engage with the form.
And, yes, details are added in the production of a play that brings it to life, but one person’s interpretation of a character or scene or whatever can be different from another’s, which is why the same staged play can play out differently for different audiences depending on who’s involved with the production.
But isn’t that the same with reading a novel?
Maybe someone prefers to see the play, which is fine, but let’s stop with the whole plays aren’t meant to be read deal, okay? It’s fine to say that sometimes plot or action becomes clearer in the seeing of it, and, yes, Shakespeare tends to be better experienced when we see it since the language can be a bit inaccessible. But, you know, people read the play to put it on for us, so the script is the thing–or, rather, the script is the basis for the whole thing.
And it has to be read. And it can be read and understood. It just takes a different kind of effort is all. So stop telling your students it can’t and shouldn’t be done.