True at any level

This passage resonates strongly with me and how I feel about my teaching practice:

“You must have great insight into what it means to learn in your field, and you must have an equally deep insight into how people learn and all the personal and social forces that can both interfere with and support that learning…. Another major factor is the development of the ability to ask important and intriguing questions that will engage our students. We spend too much time pinning our hopes on our machines, hoping that computers or iPads or something magical will help engage our students. They won’t. Students will become engaged only when they see the questions and problems as important, intriguing, or just beautiful. We can learn to use the arts—from poetry to film to music—to help raise the question, but we have to understand those questions and their connection with the questions that may already be on the minds of our students.”

Bain, K. (2012, January 9). What the Best College Teachers Do: An HETL interview with Dr. Ken Bain. Interviewers: Patrick Blessinger and Krassie Petrova. The International HETL Review. Volume 2, Article 1,

Thank you, Grant Wiggins for leading me to this insight. And isn’t that what good teachers do?  

Think about these key phrases:

a) “personal and social forces…” the different learning styles of every student, any Ed plan or IEP, what’s happening at home? at recess? at breakfast or lunch? in the classroom? Come see us at Morning Meeting.  Join us for lunch.

b) “the ability to ask important and intriguing questions…” MathTalk, Essential Questions, the learning objective that we have everyday, the perplexed mind (Dan Meyer) all play on this very powerful motivator. All kids are curious.

c) “We spend too much time pinning our hopes on our machines…” Ipads and laptops just open the doors; we need to show students which doors to open and why and what they can do on the other side.

d) “We can learn to use the arts…”  Come to any Exhibition. Integration with other disciplines: we do it every day at the Charter.

About gblakney

Middle School Mathematics Teacher, passionate EdTech user who loves to experiment with new methods and tools in the classroom. Following the lead of Dan Meyer and Jo Boaler, I create a safe place for kids to discover the fun and beauty of maths. I use Number Talks and Groupwork to make maths accessible for all of my students. I enjoy Mathematics and I'm enthusiastic about teaching; the kids really respond to that.
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